Oklahoma-West Virginia Preview
The No. 21 Sooners look to avoid losing back-to-back games for the first time this season Wednesday night, while the Mountaineers seek their first win against a ranked team in over two years.
Oklahoma (17-5, 6-3 Big 12) is among the highest scoring teams in the nation at 83.5 points per game while putting up an average of 61.5 shots. That scheme, however, is partly why the Sooners give up an average of 77.0 points - the most in the conference.
The team's offense failed to do much against the No. 16 Cyclones on Saturday, shooting 40.6 percent - including 8 of 26 from beyond the arc - on the way to an 81-75 loss.
The setback came five days after the Sooners were impressive in one of their signature wins of the season, beating then-No. 8 Oklahoma State 88-76. They connected on 46.3 percent from the floor in that one and went 8 of 17 from long range.
"When you have more possessions, you're going to score more points," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "They shoot it a lot faster. When you shoot it faster, there's going to be a lot more possessions and you're going to score more points, and your opponents are also going to score more points."
Staten continues to do that for the Mountaineers (13-9, 5-4), averaging 18.0 points to rank behind only the Cyclones' Melvin Ejim (18.3) in the Big 12.
The junior guard came up big Saturday, scoring a career-high 35 points in an 81-71 win over Kansas State. He went 8 for 13 from the floor and hit 18 free throws to break the team record set by Rod Thorn in 1963.
"He wants to win," Huggins said of Staten. "The kid cares and he works. He puts time in and he studies film. He wants to be a really good player. I'm really proud of him. I'm proud of the fact that he hasn't backed off.
"He's the kind of guy you hope has success because he's earned it."
Staten will be vital to helping end West Virginia's 16-game losing streak against ranked opponents, which includes four defeats this season.
The Mountaineers will have plenty of chances to end the skid with four straight matchups against ranked teams over the next 10 days. After facing the Sooners, they play at No. 8 Kansas, host Iowa State and visit 15th-ranked Texas.
Oklahoma has won four straight over the Mountaineers, including all three meetings last season while shooting 47.1 percent and limiting Staten to an average of 8.3 points.
The Sooners were dominant defensively in their most recent visit to Morgantown on Jan. 5, 2013, allowing just 30.0 percent shooting en route to a 67-57 victory.
Sophomore guard Buddy Hield may be poised to make an impact this time after totaling 16 points against the Mountaineers last season. He's coming off a career-high 30 points against the Cyclones and his 17.0 average ties him for fifth in the league.
Still, Huggins is wary of Ryan Spangler, who is among the country's leaders with 10.2 rebounds per game. The forward is averaging 13.8 over the past four games, including a career-high 17 with 15 points against the Cowboys on Jan. 27.
"Spangler makes a huge difference," Huggins said. "He's the best rebounder in our league, maybe the best in the country. He can block some shots, but he rebounds everything."