Takeaways from Oklahoma basketball's return to win column with 77-63 victory over West Virginia

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma men's basketball team got back to playing its style of game in the comforts of home on Wednesday night, but it took a while to get it going.

After battling to a four-point, 29-25 lead in the first 20 minutes, the 15th-ranked Sooners (14-3, 2-2) heated up in the second half and pulled away for a 77-63 win over unranked West Virginia (6-11, 1-3). The victory snapped a two-game losing streak and evened Oklahoma's Big 12 record at 2-2. It was the Sooners' 11th straight victory this season at the Lloyd Noble Center without a loss.

Several of the problems that plagued the OU men in their back-to-back road losses a week ago -- soft defense, turnovers and inconsistent shooting -- surfaced again in the early going against West Virginia. Barely four minutes into the game, the Sooners missed three of their first five shots, including a dunk attempt by Sam Godwin, and committed turnovers, all on bad passes.

Not a promising start for a team that head coach Porter Moser said "needed to win tonight to stop the bleeding." Oklahoma shot just 38 percent in the first half, nearly 12 points below its season average. It took a 17-7 run over the final eight minutes of the first half for the Sooners to open up their biggest lead after the first 20 minutes.

While it took some time for the Sooners to find the bottom of the bucket with better consistency, the Mountaineers weren't faring much better. By halftime, no player on either team had more than seven points.

OU scored the first five points of the second half and extended the lead to 10 points after the first five minutes. Georgia Tech transfer Jalon Moore scored nine of his game-high 16 points in the second half to lead the way for the victorious Sooners. Moore has averaged 10.1 points in his last three conference games. Noah Farrakhan led West Virginia with 14 points off the bench.

Asked what the message from the bench was during the Sooners sluggish start, Moore told reporters in postgame press conference:

"I think the message was just keep guarding. I mean, our shots are going to fall, our offense is going to come."

-Β Jalon Moore

The Sooners warmed up considerably on the offensive end in the second half, shooting 64 percent on 14 of 22 field goals.

It's back on the road this weekend as OU travels to Ohio to face Big 12 newcomer Cincinnati. The Bearcats (13-4) are coming off a 71-64 home win on Tuesday over No. 19 TCU, so the Sooners will face another stern Big 12 road test on Saturday.

Three prime takeaways from Oklahoma's victory over West Virginia

Turnovers continue to be a major problem. Poor ball handling has been an issue all season for Oklahoma. The Sooners committed 19 turnovers against West Virginia leading to 17 points. Seven of those turnovers came in the first 11 minutes of the game. OU is going to have to clean up this aspect of its game. Otherwise, it is going to prove more costly against the better teams in the conference.

Balanced scoring. Head coach Porter Moser used an eight-man rotation against West Virginia. All eight players scored in the game and four Sooners, including three starters, scored in double figures. OU also received 26 points off the bench, 13 of which were contributed by Oregon transfer Rivaldo Soares. This kind of balance will serve Oklahoma well, particularly if one or two of its leading scorers have an off night, which will likely be the case at some time the remainder of the season.

Points in the paint. Oklahoma is averaging close to half of its points every game from in close to the basket in the painted area. Against Kansas, the Sooners scored just 26 compared to 46 by Kansas. Oklahoma was much better at home against the Mountaineers with 40 points coming from the paint. OU also pulled down 10 offensive rebounds, leading to 11 points.