Oklahoma basketball was in need of a signature win to boost its NCAA Tournament resume and it got just that on Saturday with a convincing upset win at home over 13th-ranked West Virginia.
Senior forward Kristian Doolittle got untracked on offense for the first time in several games, scoring a team-high 27 points in leading the Sooners to the victory, only their second win in the last seven games against the Mountaineers. Fourteen of his points came in the opening half.
Doolittle, who was averaging 14.7 points a game coming into Saturday’s game at the Lloyd Noble Center, had not scored in double figures in his last five games.
Trailing 14-9 early in the game, the Sooners uncorked a 17-2 run over an eight-minute stretch, building a 10-point advantage, and never trailed the remainder of the game. West Virginia made just one of 11 shot attempts during that stretch.
Oklahoma led 31-24 at the half and stretched the advantage to 19 points, 59-41, with just over six minutes left in the game. After West Virginia’s Oscar Tshiebwe made a two-point shot at the 9:15 mark in the second half, the Mountaineers went nearly five minutes without scoring a point.
The win, Oklahoma’s first this season over a team ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, improves the Sooners’ season record to 15-8 and 5-5 in the Big 12. West Virginia loses for just the fifth time in 23 games. The Mountaineers are now 6-4 in the Big 12, with all three of the conference losses on the road.
Oklahoma commits an uncharacteristic 19 turnovers
All season long Oklahoma has done an excellent job protecting the ball and minimizing turnovers. The Sooners had been averaging about 11 per game, but the West Virginia defense created some problems for the Sooners. OU committed an uncharacteristic 19 turnovers, eight in the first half alone. The Mountaineers scored 21 points off of the 19 Sooner turnovers, but it wasn’t enough to overcome OU’s hot shooting hand.
Sooners outrebound the taller Mountaineers
Rebounding has not been a strength for Oklahoma this season, and they have frequently been outclassed on the offensive glass. Going against a taller, longer West Virginia front line on Saturday was expected to be a big problem for the home-team Sooners.
OU was buried on the offensive backboard, with the Mountaineers collecting 21 offensive boards to Oklahoma’s nine. But Oklahoma won the overall rebound battle capturing 42 overall rebounds to West Virginia’s 41. Much of that was the result of having West Virginia’s 6-foot, 9-inch Oscar Tshiebwe on the bench with foul trouble for half of the game.
When OU shoots a better field-goal percentage than opponent it wins
Cold shooting and lengthy scoring draughts killed West Virginia’s chances against the Sooners. Oklahoma shot 45 percent for the game and 47 percent from three-point range (7 of 15). West Virginia, on the other hand, put up 27 more shots than the Sooners and missed 52 of them, many of them close to the basket. The Mountaineers ended up shooting just 32 percent for the game, 11 percent below their season average.
The Sooners are now 13-1 this season when they shoot a better percentage than their opponent.
West Virginia takes only eight foul shots
Austin Reaves fouled out of the game for Oklahoma. No other Sooner, however, committed more than two fouls. As a result, West Virginia shot just eight foul shots in the game, making five of them. Oklahoma outscored the Mountaineers by 13 points at the foul line, hitting 18 of 21.
Next game for Oklahoma
Oklahoma stays at home for a mid-week game against Iowa State on Wednesday before traveling north to Lawrence, Kansas, on Saturday for an early-morning tip against the Jayhawks.