|Junior guard Juwan Staten scored a team-best 24 points in a losing cause for the Mountaineers on Wednesday night at 23rd-ranked Oklahoma.
|Texas Tech photo
Oklahoma was simply not going to let Eron Harris
beat them a second time.
When these two teams met in Morgantown back on Feb. 5 Harris went off for 28 points, including hitting a late 3 to send the game into overtime. Tonight, Harris scored only 5 points before fouling out with two minutes remaining, and the 23rd-ranked Sooners put together a 23-7 run midway through second half to dispose of West Virginia, 72-62, Wednesday night at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla.
“They really crowded him and tried to keep him from catching it. They switched everything with him. Lon (Kruger) is a good coach," said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. "There are 30 tapes out there, so when you have guys that listen when you talk to them about tendencies you ought to be able to guard them, or do a better job, anyway.
"He got frustrated and in foul trouble. My fight was, should I have put him back in the first half earlier? But then if he picks up three (fouls), then I’m an idiot and we don’t have any chance to win. But when you sit there that long it is hard.”
With both teams shooting in the 30s for a good part of the game, West Virginia was right there with Oklahoma, leading 43-40 after a Kevin Noreen
basket with 11:46 remaining.
But Oklahoma (22-8, 11-6) found its shooting stroke, scoring seven straight capped by Buddy Hield’s 3 to take a 47-44 lead. Then two more Hield triples, one coming at 9:20 and the other coming at 8:23, pushed the lead out to six, 53-47.
The undermanned Mountaineers responded with just one field goal over the next five minutes to drop its ninth conference game of the season.
West Virginia, now 16-14 overall and 8-9 in Big 12 play, is in a three-way tie with Oklahoma State and Baylor for sixth place in the conference standings.
The Mountaineers need to upset eighth-ranked Kansas on Saturday and get some help from Iowa State against Oklahoma State and Kansas State against Baylor to avoid a Wednesday night game in next week’s Big 12 tournament in Kansas City.
Tonight, Juwan Staten
scored 10 of West Virginia’s first 12 points and finished with a team-best 24 points on 11 of 23 shooting. Freshman forward Devin Williams
contributed 14 points and 12 rebounds and Gary Browne
came off the bench to score 12. But after that there was not much else for WVU, playing its fourth straight game without third-leading scorer Terry Henderson
Cameron Clark led the Sooners with 19 points and 10 rebounds and Hield overcame a poor first half to finish with 13.
"It was a night when it wasn’t real smooth but they kept playing and kept battling and figured out a way to win a ball game. When you do that in the Big 12 you feel pretty good," said Kruger.
Oklahoma shot just 41.8 percent from the floor, including 11 of 30 from 3, and was out-rebounded by two, 39-37. The Mountaineers finished the game shooting 42.2 percent from the floor and made only 4 of 10 from the free throw line, where Oklahoma had an 11-point advantage to make up the difference in the game.
The Mountaineers have dropped four of their last five while the Sooners have won four out of their last five.
OU wraps up its regular season on Saturday at TCU while West Virginia will take another crack at win No. 17 on Saturday afternoon against the Jayhawks at the Coliseum in a noon game that will be televised nationally on ESPN.
Earlier today, the Mountaineer Ticket Office announced the game a sellout.