West Virginia-Oklahoma Preview
Riding its best long-distance shooting stretch of the season, Oklahoma finds itself in control of the race for second in the Big 12.
West Virginia, trying to earn a bye in the conference tournament, is looking to shut down the Sooners’ 3-point barrage for the second time this season.
The 23rd-ranked Sooners try to stay hot from deep on Wednesday night against the visiting Mountaineers.
Oklahoma (21-8, 10-6) is shooting 41.8 percent from 3-point range over a 3-1 stretch after hitting 32.7 percent of its long-distance attempts while dropping three of four.
The Sooners were 10 of 25 from behind the arc in Saturday’s 77-65 win over then-No. 24 Texas, which helped compensate for a 40-32 disadvantage on the boards. They’re tied with the Longhorns for second place in the league, but hold the edge after sweeping the season series for the first time in nine years.
Isaiah Cousins scored 17 of his career-high 24 points in the second half. He was 2 of 5 from long range for Oklahoma, which averages 9.2 3-pointers and 86.9 points per game at home.
Maybe more impressive for the Sooners – who rank last in the conference allowing 76.6 points per game – was their defensive performance. They held Texas’ top three scorers – Jonathan Holmes, Isaiah Taylor and Javan Felix – to 23 points, more than 15 below their collective average. Oklahoma also tallied 23 points off of 16 turnovers while committing a season low-matching seven.
"The guys have made a ton of progress defensively," coach Lon Kruger said. "Isaiah kind of took responsibility on the perimeter to toughen us up and play with greater purpose and greater significance and the other guys fed off of that."
West Virginia held the Sooners to a conference season-low 5 3-pointers on 19 attempts in a 91-86 overtime home victory Feb. 5. It marked the second win in the series for the Mountaineers after Oklahoma had won four of the first five and ended West Virginia’s 16-game losing streak against ranked foes. Cousins was just 3 of 13 with six points.
The Sooners outscored West Virginia 49-38 in the second half but Eron Harris hit a 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining to force the extra period. Harris tallied 26 of his 28 points in the second half and overtime.
West Virginia (16-13, 8-8) is allowing teams to shoot 34.1 percent from 3-point range on the season. The Mountaineers ended a three-game skid with an 81-59 home win over TCU on Saturday with the Horned Frogs going 2 of 9 from beyond the arc. They let teams go a combined 22 for 53 (41.5 percent) from long distance during the losing streak, though last-place TCU likely didn’t provide much of a test, considering the Horned Frogs average only 4.7 3-pointers per game.
The Mountaineers are a game ahead of Oklahoma State in the loss column for sixth place. The top six teams receive byes into the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament, where a championship run would likely represent West Virginia’s only chance at an NCAA bid.
Harris and Juwan Staten – tied for second in the league with 18.0 points per game – combined for 35 points against TCU. Staten was 6 of 18 from the field versus Oklahoma but finished with 20 points.