No. 11 West Virginia had plenty of opportunities to spring its second upset of the week against the Sooners, but No. 2 Oklahoma made its extra opportunities from 13 offensive rebounds count to beat the Mountaineers.
Jaysean Paige continued his torrid scoring pace, pouring in 18 points and helping the West Virginia bench outscore Oklahoma’s 39-14.
A big part of the story of this game though was how each team performed at the free throw line. Oklahoma sunk 27-of-32 from the charity stripe, while the Mountaineers went just 13-for-22. In a game that was decided by a single basket, that looms large.
“I thought we played hard. We played a whole game without our best player basically. We shoot 53 percent, 59 percent from the free throw line. That's 100 percent the game. They made free throws and we didn't. They made shots, we didn't. We have to rebound and score off offensive rebounds because we just can't score consistently enough,” said head coach Bob Huggins on IMG’s Northside Automotive Postgame Report.
“The guys that seem like they get fouled can’t make free throws, and the guys that can make free throws don’t get fouled.”
The Sooners’ second chance points were also a back breaker from West Virginia’s perspective, including Khadeem Latin’s clutch tip-in to win the game.
Buddy Hield came into this game as the nation’s second-leading scorer averaging 26.6 points per game and has been a legitimate candidate for the Player of the Year award. West Virginia held Hield to 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting, but gave up a trio of dagger 3s to the Oklahoma guard that came after long offensive rebounds.
Huggins said the Sooners penetration into the lane, combined with the limited role Devin Williams was able to play because of foul trouble really hurt the Mountaineers on the glass today, especially on the game’s decisive play.
"Penetration. They penetrate," Huggins said. "Devin had to come help. It wasn't his fault. He had to. Then you have to make a rotation and they score. The game has become dribble, dribble, dribble. We have to learn to guard that. And when we don't make shots from the perimeter, they don't guard out there and it's harder to get it at the rim.”
Devin Williams was in hot water with foul trouble throughout this game, and finished with five points, six rebounds and four fouls on the game in just 15 minutes on the floor.
The Mountaineers got a nice contribution from Elijah Macon in Williams’ absence, as he chipped in nine points, four rebounds and an assist off the bench. Macon looked confident taking the ball to the rack off the dribble, and really made OU’s Ryan Spangler work for everything he got.
With the loss, West Virginia falls to 15-2 overall and 4-1 in Big 12 play. The Mountaineers are even with Oklahoma atop the Big 12, with the Sooners holding the tie breaker as a result of their win today.
The Mountaineers will have a few days to process their first conference loss of the season before Shaka Smart’s Texas Longhorns make the trip to Morgantown for a Wednesday night tilt.