After only their second loss of the season Saturday, #16 West Virginia University basketball team will have to put that behind them and quickly turn around to face another ranked BIG 12 opponent in #18 Oklahoma. Tonight’s game is at the WVU Coliseum and can be watched on ESPNEWS with the festivities tipping off @7 p.m. Currently with seven teams in the BIG 12 ranked in the AP Top 25, close scoring games will be played, and wins will be hard to come by for some teams in the conference. Since each team is coming off of a loss, coming away with the win in this game will be imperative.
Previous series: Oklahoma holds the all time series lead over the Mountaineers 5-2. The first time these two met was on December 22nd 2005 at the All-College Classic in Oklahoma City where the Mountaineers beat #7 Oklahoma 92-68. The second meeting of these two came in Huggins first year at WVU with the Sooners walking away with this victory after double overtime (88-82). Last year, the series ended 1-1 with WVU winning at the Coliseum 91-85, and the Sooners winning at home 72-62.
Scouting Oklahoma: The Sooners under Kansas State alum Lon Kruger are 69-42 in his fourth season. They are 11-4 overall and 2-1 in BIG 12 play.
Isaiah Cousins- 12.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg
Buddy Hield- 16.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg
Ryan Spangler- 9.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg
TaShawn Thomas- 11.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg
Jordan Woodward- 7.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg
Buddy Hield and TaShawn Thomas are the key players to watch for the Mountaineers. Hield, a junior, scored a career-high 31 points against Kansas State, while averaging 21.3 points in the last three games.He has also scored in double figures in nine consecutive games, becoming the 41st member of the 1,000 point-club ranking 39th all time. Senior TaShawn Thomas has averaged 16.7 points and 10 rebounds in Big 12 play, shooting 52.4 percent from the field. OU is also known to have a good defense by being one of four teams to keep their opponents to 69 points or less this season.
WVU will need increase their shooting percentage to counter this stringent Sooner defense. Senior Juwan Staten finished with 23 points Saturday, which is his 4th game with 20 or more points this season. He is also averaging 4.6 rebounds per contest. Sophomore Devin Williams for the 5th time this year has had double figures and is shooting 61.3% over the last four games. Defensively, the Mountaineers are 1st in steals (12.81) and turnover margins (+10.56).
Oklahoma Sooners key to win: Longer time of possession on offense. This is key for many reasons, the longer the possession the less steals have been made by WVU. Longer possessions have led to more points against the Mountaineers.
WVU Mountaineers keys to win: Higher shooting percentage. It is difficult for any team to win a ball game with a 42.5 shooting percentage. Get back to what you do best: high number of steals and get the ball in the paint.
Information from: espn.com, big12sports.com, soonersports.com and wvusports.com (WVU Notes/Stats vs. Oklahoma).
Photo from: wvusports.com