And with their convincing 86-65 victory over the Sooners was just the type of dominating team performance against a quality opponent that the Mountaineers have been looking for.
WVU never trailed after scoring the game’s first bucket 29 seconds in and was able to get major contributions from just about every player on the roster.
“In all honesty, I thought they did a great job,” said Mountaineer head coach Bob Huggins. “Everybody that we brought in really added to it. I still think it was a cumulative effect. I think some of their guys had to work harder at the end than they’re used to.
The added contributions from the bench was more than enough to allow senior point guard Juwan Staten to not be forced to have the type of game he usually has. After the Big 12’s preseason Player of the Year started the game slowly, missing his first seven shot attempts and finishing 1-for-9 with four points, Staten decided to take the game over in other ways by helping set his teammates up and get them in good position to score while running the West Virginia offense with the confidence that the seasoned floor general has picked up since playing for Huggins the last few years.
Staten ended the game with eight assists to just one turnover – his first time with that many assists since the Mountaineers’ second game of the season.
“He had a lot of assists and controlled the game,” Huggins said. “We moved the ball. We’re better when we pass the ball. It opens up driving lanes for us.”
West Virginia came out of the gates with loads of energy, outplaying the Sooners from the start of the game. Defensively, it forced seven turnovers within the game’s first 12 minutes and caused a total of 22 turnovers for the game – turning it into 27 points on the other end.
WVU’s forwards, led by sophomore Devin Williams’ second consecutive double-double, helped to lead the way for the Mountaineers in the team effort as well. Williams finished the game with 14 points and 11 rebounds while sophomore forward Nathan Adrian was able to break out of his recent slump and finish with 11 points to reach double figures for the first time this season.
After a few years of seeing his teams start to fold in the game following a tough loss, West Virginia’s veteran head coach saw a much different group take the floor Tuesday.
“This is a much more competitive group,” Huggins said. “You don’t want one loss to lead to another loss. If you lose and extra-inning game in baseball, you don’t want to lose the next day because you lost the night before.
“When they talk about coaching in the NBA, they say you can’t hold onto a loss. That’s really hard for me, and I did my best to make sure they didn’t.”
It was WVU’s 11th win by 20 or more points against a ranked opponent in school history.
Guard Buddy Hield led three Sooners in double figures, scoring 21 points and grabbing eight rebounds. Isaiah Cousins and Ryan Spangler finished the game with 14 and 10 points, respectively, in the loss.
The Mountaineers will hit the road to take on No. 20 Texas this weekend.