WVU Mountaineers to take on Sooners in Oklahoma tonight
MORGANTOWN — West Virginia travels to Norman, Oklahoma, for tonight’s game against the Sooners seeking a first-ever victory at the Lloyd Noble Center.
The Mountaineers are 0-4 there since joining the Big 12 in 2012, losing by two last year, by 19 in 2015, by 10 in 2014 and by 13 in 2013.
Last year’s game came down to a Khadeem Lattin follow-up basket with one second left after West Virginia tied the game with 26 seconds left on two Jonathan Holton free throws.
The Mountaineers led 48-41 with 13:46 remaining in the second half before Oklahoma rallied.
It was a similar deal in Morgantown last month when the Mountaineers had the Sooners down by 15 with less than nine minutes to go before Jordan Woodard took over the game. He finished with 20 points to lead the Sooners, including the game-winning basket in overtime to give OU a rare win in Big 12 play this season.
“We didn’t guard him,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “We were constantly in retreat mode, which that’s not our persona.”
Oklahoma (8-14 overall) has won just twice in 10 league games this year, and is coming off a 77-69 defeat at Texas Tech last Saturday.
But the Sooners are probably looking forward to Wednesday’s game against West Virginia because they have enjoyed considerable success against the Mountaineers in the 13-game series that dates back to December 22, 2005.
Oklahoma is 9-4 overall against West Virginia and has won four of the last five.
West Virginia’s lone victory was a dramatic 69-67 decision in the semifinals of last year’s Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship when the officials ruled that Buddy Hield’s successful half-court basket came after the buzzer had sounded.
Otherwise, it would be five in a row for OU over West Virginia.
The Mountaineers (18-5, 6-4) are coming off a stinging home loss to Oklahoma State last Saturday evening. Once again against the Cowboys, West Virginia had a second half lead but was not able to make the critical plays down the stretch to win the game.
Four of West Virginia’s five defeats this year have been by four points or less, and Saturday’s seven-point margin was inflated by some late Cowboy free throws.
It was still a one-possession game with a minute and a half remaining.
Ironically, four nights prior at Iowa State, West Virginia had one of its best performances of the season in downing the Cyclones, 85-72, playing in one of the Big 12’s most difficult venues at Hilton Coliseum.
Huggins was asked Tuesday during his morning media teleconference if there are any clues as to which team is going to show up tonight — the one that played so impressively in wins over Baylor, Kansas and Iowa State, or the one that stubbed its toe once again on Saturday.
“There are definitely times when they practice better than at other times — with a lot more bounce in their step — and that’s generally a clue,” he said.
Huggins said the team watched a lot of film on Monday and practiced more five-on-five than it normally does at this point in the season.
“We’re still trying to stop things and point things out that were hurting us,” he said.
With Saturday’s loss, West Virginia missed a great opportunity to close ground on Big 12 leaders Kansas and Baylor and is now tied with Iowa State for third place at 6-4, one game ahead of 5-5 TCU.
Oklahoma is at the bottom of the conference standings at 2-8. OU’s only other Big 12 victory so far this year was at home against Texas Tech on January 14.
Today’s game will tip off at 9 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPN2.