OU not ready for West Virginia

Sooners came to Morgantown ill-prepared for Mountaineers pressure

Two things kept Oklahoma from upsetting West Virginia on the road in one of the toughest environments in the Big 12 Conference.

The Sooners were un-prepared and not ready to play the Mountaineers on Tuesday night.

It’s just two things, but it’s two pretty big things.

Oklahoma wasn’t prepared for the West Virginia press and committed a season-high 22 turnovers. The Sooners weren’t ready to give the necessary effort required to stop the Mountaineers and allowed 17 offensive rebounds.

“Two things you have to do against a team that’s playing like that and playing so well is handle the pressure and try to limit their offensive rebounding, and we didn’t do either,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “The final score is not a surprise since we didn’t do either of those things and West Virginia played great.”

Midway through the second half, No. 18 Oklahoma didn’t even look like it wanted to be on the court anymore.

Point guard Jordan Woodard was trapped just over half court and his teammates watched. The Sooners were down by almost 20 points at the time, but only freshman Khadeem Lattin flashed to give Woodard an option.

The loss to Kansas State exposed Oklahoma’s flaws. West Virginia exploited those.

“You look at our last game and say everything was bad,” Kruger said after the loss to Kansas State. “It wasn’t good at all. Not good enough passing. Not good enough defense. Not good enough offense. When you lose ballgames, that’s typically what’s going to happen.” A repeat performance against No. 16 West Virginia isn’t quite a trend yet, but it’s much closer.

“Everybody was kind of stagnant on offense, everybody was into their self,” guard Buddy Hield said of Oklahoma’s loss to Kansas State. “We've got to get back to that swagger and then it's going to be fun. . . . If they slip up, we've got to make them pay. It's all about making them pay.”

He could have said it about the Sooners’ loss to West Virginia as well. The Mountaineers didn’t pay for much Tuesday night.

Oklahoma still lacks enough ball handlers, and despite showing more bench Tuesday, it’s still much shallower than most previously believed.

Worst of all: Oklahoma seemed ill-prepared to face West Virginia’s press. On Monday afternoon before leaving for the airport, Oklahoma’s starters were working against a scout team trying to simulate the Mountaineers’ press.

There was only one scholarship player on that scout unit. Oklahoma’s two best scout teamers – Dante Buford and Jamuni McNeace – were nowhere to be found.

West Virginia rolled 11 scholarship players at Oklahoma, all of whom have bought into the Mountaineers’ system.

The Sooners were down by five points less than five minutes in and down by 10 less than 10 minutes after the opening tip. Oklahoma never led and West Virginia’s lead grew until the final minutes – maxing out at 24 points with less than 100 seconds to play.

After, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins tried to gloss over Oklahoma’s struggles – playing the politicking card.

“I thought they did a great job,” Huggins said. “Their spacing was really good. They did some really nice things. We turned a lot of people loose to the goal. Their game plan was really good. However, our ball pressure was very good, much better than we usually are.”


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