WVU blew a lead it held the majority of the game and found itself in overtime against the #21 Oklahoma Sooners Wednesday night at the Coliseum before dispatching of the visiting squad 91-86.
Before this game even got underway, a big deal was made about Oklahoma not arriving at the Coliseum until approximately 90 minutes before the tip due to inclement weather. For a large part of the game, it appeared as though some of the Sooners had decided to stay home. With a lead as large as 14 points at times, WVU looked to cruise to its sixth Big 12 win before Oklahoma woke up and put a late scare into the home crowd.
Early in the game, WVU did a great job spreading the ball around. Staten, Henderson, Adrian, Williams, Dibo, Harris all got in on early action. On the other side, Oklahoma struggled to find its shot early in the first half. During this scoring drought, the announcers saw fit to point out that Oklahoma is second in free throw makes (probably due to the fact that the refs let them shoot when a defender looks at them funny). With over 7 minutes left in first half Oklahoma was in the double bonus, and a full four minutes later, WVU joined them.
However, despite the fact that Oklahoma shot 13-15 from the charity stripe, WVU took an 11 point lead into halftime, and looked poised to run away with the game in the second half. A quick look at the first half stats:
Oklahoma: 34.6% from the field, 1-4 from 3, 13-15 FTM 4 players tied with 6 points
WVU: 41.7% from the field, 5-16 from 3, 8-12 FTM Staten and Henderson with 13, Williams with 6.
Oklahoma came out cold (possibly due to the horrendous weather they faced in trudging to the Coliseum) in the second half and an early, and deep, Eron Harris 3 put WVU up by 14. Harris took his turn putting the team on his back and proceeded to score 8 of WVU's first 10 in the second half.
Oklahoma then started to wake up and shake of the snow and ice that plagued its merciless trek across the country to visit the Hills of WV, and with 8:05 left had cut the lead to 4.
For the next few minutes, it was a back and forth battle with each team trading punches and WVU's lead fluctuating from 4, to 6, to 5, to 4. Each team was struggling to find a rhythm, and sloppy turnovers seamed to rear their ugly head for the boys in Old Gold and Blue. With 4:30 left, WVU's lead had dwindled to 3 before Harris dished to Watkins for his first basket of the game. With 4:00 left to play, it was time to see if all of this season's close games would pay dividends for this young Mountaineer squad.
More back and forth ensued with Oklahoma cutting the lead to 2 with 2 minutes left on the clock. Things looked promising for WVU when Harris was left wide open for a 3, but it clanked off the rim and Oklahoma grabbed the rebound. Ryan Spangler then tied the game and drew contact against Harris as the refs called a block on the Mountaineer defender. After the "and 1," Oklahoma took their first lead since early in the game, 79-78.
A weak shot by Staten on the other end lead to another foul on West Virginia, and Oklahoma connected on both free throws. Eron Harris then went down the court and air-mailed a shot to give the Sooners another ill-timed opportunity. With 31.8 left to play, WVU was down 81-78 in a game they led the majority of the way. Things were looking bleak for the Mountaineer faithful.
With time winding down, Eron Harris finally nailed a three to tie the game at 81-81 with just under 20 seconds left to play. Oklahoma failed to score, and there was free basketball for everyone!
The overtime period went much like the second half with WVU and Oklahoma going back and forth, but Eron Harris hit two threes before missing a third to give the Mountaineers and 87-86 lead with just over 1:30 left in the game. With just under a minute, Staten finally connected on a field goal to give WVU a 3 point lead. The Sooners shot 3 after 3 to try and tie the game, but WVU managed to collect a rebound with 36.4 on the clock. A pair of free throws by WVU sealed the victory for the Mountaineers, knocking off the #21 team in the country.
While this was a complete team game, with almost everyone contributing something to the effort, three names stand out on the stat sheet. Eron Harris finished the game with 28 points after starting scoring only 2 in the first half. Juwan Staten scored 20, 13 of which came in the first half. Finally, Terry Henderson added 17. Nathan Adrian, while not dazzling with his stats, came up with two huge rebounds in overtime to kill Oklahoma's second chance opportunities, and deserves a mention also.
Overall, this was not a game for the faint of heart as turnovers and sloppy play contributed heavily to Oklahoma's comeback in the second half. Granted, the Sooners started to shoot the ball more effectively, but there were many times down the stretch where WVU simply gave the ball away to the visiting team. Luckily, the grind-it-out mentality that this team has developed over the season prevailed and the Mountaineers walked away with a huge win at this point in the season. If the team can keep this up, and gain confidence from the last three games, we could be breaking out our dance shoes come March.
Here are the full stats from the game:
|Ryan Spangler, F||3-7||0-0||4-5||2||7||9||0||0||0||0||4||10|
|Cameron Clark, G||4-12||0-1||1-2||1||2||3||0||1||1||2||3||9|
|Isaiah Cousins, G||3-13||0-4||0-0||0||1||1||0||3||0||1||4||6|
|Buddy Hield, G||6-12||3-8||0-0||2||6||8||1||0||0||3||2||15|
|Jordan Woodard, G||8-11||0-0||7-8||0||4||4||8||1||1||3||2||23|
|Tyler Neal, F||2-8||2-6||10-11||2||5||7||0||0||1||3||2||16|
|D.J. Bennett, F||0-1||0-0||0-0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Je'lon Hornbeak, G||2-4||0-0||0-1||0||2||2||1||0||0||0||4||4|
|Frank Booker, G||0-1||0-0||3-3||1||2||3||0||0||0||1||3||3|
|West Virginia Mountaineers|
|Devin Williams, F||3-8||0-0||2-4||2||5||7||0||2||0||1||4||8|
|Remi Dibo, F||1-5||1-4||1-2||2||6||8||1||1||0||1||5||4|
|Juwan Staten, G||6-18||0-1||8-10||1||9||10||6||2||0||3||0||20|
|Eron Harris, G||10-18||6-13||2-2||1||3||4||2||0||0||2||3||28|
|Terry Henderson, G||5-12||3-8||4-4||1||2||3||1||2||0||2||2||17|
|Kevin Noreen, F||0-1||0-0||0-0||2||2||4||0||0||1||0||5||0|
|Nathan Adrian, F||1-5||1-5||2-4||0||2||2||1||1||0||0||2||5|
|Brandon Watkins, F||1-1||0-0||1-2||1||4||5||0||1||2||0||4||3|
|Gary Browne, G||1-3||0-1||4-4||1||0||1||0||0||0||1||1||6|
WVU will look to continue its streak at Kansas on ESPN Saturday at 4:00PM.
As always, Let's GO!!