Oklahoma used 26 points from Romero Osby and 23 points from Steven Pledger to defeat West Virginia 83-70 Wednesday night at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla.
The Sooners get a rare three-game regular season sweep over West Virginia tonight, having also defeated the Mountaineers 77-70 in Orlando back on Nov. 25 and 67-57 in Morgantown on Jan. 5.
“We’ve lost three games to Oklahoma because they have just absolutely kicked our behinds on the offensive glass,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “They did it again tonight and the frustrating thing is we didn’t block them out.”
Oklahoma (20-9, 11-6) grabbed 14 offensive rebounds and had a 23-8 advantage in second-chance points. The more aggressive Sooners also had a 21-6 edge at the free throw line.
“We said coming in that we have to rebound the basketball,” explained Huggins. "We cannot give second-chanced points. We cannot throw the ball to them.”
West Virginia (13-17, 6-11) fell behind by 17 until Jabarie Hinds
’ driving layup with 10:01 left in the first half snapped a long scoreless spell. Then, after trailing by 11 at halftime, West Virginia used the 3-ball in the first five minutes of the second half to reduce Oklahoma’s lead to three, 44-41, on an Aaric Murray
Another 3, this one by freshman Eron Harris
, trimmed Oklahoma’s lead to four, 66-62, with 6:58 remaining. WVU also trailed by four, 68-64, following a Deniz Kilcili basket with 5:12 left before the Sooners pulled away.
Oklahoma shot 50 percent for the game (26 of 52), including 55.6 percent from 3 (10-18) and 77.8 percent from the free throw line (21 of 27).
“We said keep them off the foul line and they go 27 times,” said Huggins.
The Mountaineers actually shot a higher percentage (52.9 percent) in one of the rare instances under Huggins when his Mountaineer team shot a higher percentage than their opponent and lost the game. Coming into tonight’s game against Oklahoma, WVU was 107-6 under Huggins when shooting a better percentage than its foe.
“What killed us tonight was constant penetration,” said Huggins. “It was like a highway to the basket and we work on it every single day.”
After struggling to find his shooting stroke in the first half, Harris finished the game with a team-high 23 – 18 of those coming in the second half. Harris has now gone over the 20-point mark for the second time in the last three games to boost his season scoring average to 9.8 points per game.
Kilicli added 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting, but he also missed six of his eight free throw attempts. The Mountaineers were just 6 of 13 from the line this evening.
WVU has now now dropped five straight on six of its last seven.
West Virginia wraps up its inaugural Big 12 regular season with a Saturday afternoon game against Iowa State at the WVU Coliseum. The Cyclones are coming off a big 87-76 upset victory over Oklahoma State earlier tonight to reach the 20-win mark. Iowa State defeated West Virginia, 69-67, in Ames back on Jan. 16.
“We need to win the game,” said Huggins. “If we win the game we are assured the seventh seed in the tournament, which is certainly not what we want, but the seventh seed we play TCU the first round and then Kansas State awaits.”
The Mountaineers are currently tied with Texas for seventh in the standings and can get sole possession of seventh place with a victory on Saturday because they have already swept the Longhorns this season. A No. 7 seed in the Big 12 tournament would likely keep West Virginia from facing either Kansas or Oklahoma State in a second round game.
Prior to Saturday’s game, West Virginia will recognize seniors Deniz Kilicli
, Dominqiue Rutledge and Matt Humphrey
. Tip off is set for 1:30 p.m.