WVU travels to Norman tonight
MORGANTOWN – To (have a) bye or to not (have a) bye.
That is the question West Virginia fans will be asking themselves when their Mountaineers (16-13, 8-8 Big 12) travel to Norman to face Oklahoma (21-8, 10-6 Big 12) at 9 p.m. today.
WVU presently sits in sixth place in the 10-team conference, a position that would give the old gold and blue a bye during the opening round of the Phillips 66/Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championships slated to begin on Wednesday, March 12, at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.
The Sooners also will be looking to improve both their Big 12 and NCAA resumes when they play host to the Mountaineers. OU goes into the contest in a three-way tie for the No. 2 seed with Iowa State and Texas, a team from whom the Sooners just recently swept the season series.
In their first meeting at the Coliseum, WVU jumped out to a 14-point advantage, but needed a game-tying triple from sophomore Eron Harris with 24 seconds remaining to force the game into overtime.
Harris, who finished with a game-high 28 points, continued his hot shooting in the extra period as WVU went on to register a 91-86 victory over the then-No. 23 Sooners.
Junior Juwan Staten chipped in 20 points and Terry Henderson added 17. OU was led by Jordan Woodard’s 23 points. Tyler Neal added 16 points, Buddy Hield 15 and Ryan Spangler 10.
All three Sooners will be on hand for the rematch with WVU that will be aired on ESPNU. However, the status of Henderson may not be known until game time.
Hield is OU’s top offensive threat with a 16.7 points per game norm, but is not the only Sooner who averages in double figures. Cameron Clark is averaging 15 ppg while Isaiah Cousins (10.9), Woodard (10.6) and Spangler (10.1) round out the group.
Staten and Harris continue to lead the Mountaineers on the scoreboard, averaging 18 points per contest apiece, while Henderson is the only other player to average double-figures at 12.1 points per game. However, if Henderson is a no-show for the rematch look for veteran head coach Bob Huggins to go with Devin Williams (8.1), Remi Dibo (7.6) and either Gary Browne (5.9) or Nathan Adrian (5.8) to round out the starting lineup.
In its victory over the Longhorns, OU connected on 10-of-25 from 3-point range with Cousins, a sophomore, finishing with a career-high 24 points on 7-of-11 shooting. He has totaled 49 points in his last three outings and has scored in double figures 15 times this season.
WVU continues to rank high nationally for fewest turnovers per game (9.4), ranking seventh. The Mountaineers have had single-digit miscues in four of their last five outings and 17 times this season.
Staten, a junior, became the first player in school history to score 500 points, grab 150 rebounds and have 150 assists in a single season.
He has shot .700 or better from the free throw line in 20 games this year.
The game will feature three of the top six scorers in the Big 12 – Staten and Harris at tied at No. 2 (18.0), Hield is No. 6 (16.7) – its top rebounder -Spangler (9.6 pg) -as well as its top passer, as Staten is averaging 5.93 assists per contest.
OU enters its final home contest of the season as the conference’s No. 2 ranked offense, averaging 82.3 points per game, but its worst defense (76.6 ppg). WVU is No 5 offensively (78.6) and No. 8 defensively (73.1).