The Oklahoma Sooners proved one thing tonight, that they are a versatile team capable of surprising a few of the perennial powers. However, there is a catch. In order for the Sooners to complete such feats, they must place an emphasis on ball control as the utmost important key. In the past few games, Oklahoma has witnessed a press implemented late in the game resulting in the loss of a double digit lead and in some cases, the game.
"I am happy for the players and the seniors especially. They have been here a while and have hung in there. They have worked and really invested a lot and represented well and all are going to graduate so that's great. So I am really happy for them. We have talked about a 20 win season and we have got to keep working and see if we can go on into the post season. That is a good way to go out. Again, I am really happy for them as much as everyone else but especially the seniors." - Lon Kruger
Many of the fans were interested in seeing Buddy Hield making his return to the hardwood. Instead, they were treated to limited minutes (4 minutes) as was hinted at by Lon Kruger.
"I thought he did ok when he was in there. He didn't have any problems at all when he came out. He said he felt good. Then going into halftime cool-down if we didn't need to put him back in there for rotations then we probably decided at halftime to not do that. Again, he is full speed. I thought he did fine and will do even better on Saturday." - Lon Kruger
With Amath M'Baye going 2-7 from the field with his only field goals coming from three point range, the Sooners needed someone to step up and pick up the slack. The call was answered by a familiar face in Steven Pledger who netted 23 points and a team high 8 rebounds.
Yet, it was all set up by none other than Sam Grooms, who has been outstanding over the final stretch of the regular season. On the evening, Grooms compiled 10 assists to compliment his 8 points. By comparison, he would finish the game with 2 steals and only 3 turnovers creating a solid assist to turnover ratio for himself.
Leading the way was Romero Osby yet again and he poured in a game high 26 points with 6 rebounds. Osby continues to be the most vital piece of this squad and has the strength to challenge any defender underneath the basket. At this point in the season, you cannot say enough about what this senior has meant for this team.
Going forward from here, the Sooners have a legitimate shot at winning the Big 12 Tournament.
"As a fan of the game, you are always looking and trying to find what is going on and everything like that, but as a player, you've just got to stay focused on the next game. We are excited that we might have an opportunity to get there but we know that our work isn't done. We still have to play this last game of the season and we still have to play in the Big 12 tournament and focus on a championship in that. We will focus on the NCAA tournament when it comes, if we're fortunate enough to make it." - Romero Osby
For the West Virginia Mountaineers, Aaric Murray provided a change of pace that Bob Huggins was looking for. With roughly six minutes left, Murray picked up his 4th foul and was seated as Oklahoma began pulling away.
It was freshman Eron Harris leading the charge with 23 points. This is a kid who remains a great talent and could be the center piece and the future of WVU Basketball in the coming years. Harris possesses a great talent and feel for the game but simply lacks experience and the leadership needed to pull his team through a come from behind win late.
Deniz Kilicli added another 20 points to the effort. After being regarded as one of the more physical players in the Big 12, Kilicli did little to help in terms of banging bodies as his Mountaineers were out-rebounded 28-19.
Oklahoma will play their final game of the regular season against TCU this Saturday.