WVU win most significant ever in Big 12

MORGANTOWN – The West Virginia University men’s basketball team’s 91-86 upset victory against 21-ranked Oklahoma here Wednesday night has to be the most significant in its two years of Big 12 conference competition.

The Mountaineers (14-9, 6-4 Big 12) now have only their second three-game winning streak in league play (the first last season). This terrific triumph also snapped the WVU 16-game losing streak against Top 25 opponents.

That stretches back to Jan. 9, 2012 in a 64-57 loss at Connecticut.

In addition, that thrill-filled triumph before 7,553 cheering fans at the Coliseum enabled West Virginia to earn a tie with Oklahoma (17-6, 6-4 Big 12) for third place in the standings.

While the Mountaineers led by as many as 12 points, the Sooners kept battling back and eventually regained a slim lead for the closing minutes of regulation time.

Thankfully, the fourth of sophomore guard Eron Harris’ six 3-point goals with 20 seconds left tied the score at 81-all and sent the contest into an overtime period.

Harris, who finished with a game-high 28 points, capped his hot spell with two more 3-point goals to seal the five-point win.

This is so significant in the improvement of veteran head coach Bob Huggins’ young squad. What’s more, he will tell you he believes the Mountaineers will continue to get better with experience.

Surely beating Oklahoma could give the team more confidence and, hopefully, its consistency with eight regular-season games left on the schedule.

By the way, the 91-point total is the highest by WVU in a Big 12 conference game. And it came against the league’s top scoring team. Oklahoma is averaging 83.5 points per game.

Harris, who surprisingly was held to a mere two points in the first half, hardly could miss a shot during the second half and overtime session.

“It was a moment where someone had to make a play,” Harris said of his sizzling after-half scoring start. “We have other guys who can make those plays.

“It just happened to be my moment.”

WVU point guard Terry Henderson said, “Once he gets going, it’s hard to slow him down. He gets his shot off when he wants.”

Huggins, himself an outstanding guard for WVU in the mid-1970s, is pleased with his team’s progress. But he readily admits that the going doesn’t get any easier the remainder of 2013-14.

“This is the biggest win I’ve ever been a part of,” Harris said Wednesday night. “I’m living a dream right now. I just want to keep it going.”

The Indianapolis, Ind. native received his strongest support from Juwan Staten. The junior guard had his second double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Staten also had six assists.

Henderson chipped in 17 points.

But it was young Harris who was paid a tall tribute by Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger. He had this to say in post-game comments:

“He made big shots. He’s a terrific player and a terrific shooter.

“We didn’t do a good job of slowing him down in the second half. He made some looks and he stepped up and made some shots. He’s a great player and had a really good game.”

West Virginia most certainly can’t rest on its short winning streak. Next is the season’s top challenge — a Saturday 4p.m. visit to Big 12 leader Kansas for a game.

The Jayhawks (17-5, 8-1 Big 12) not only are No. 1 in the league standings, but are ranked No. 8 in The Associated Press Poll.