After being picked to finish fifth in the Big XII, Lon Kruger's Oklahoma Sooners are on the verge of finishing second (thanks to Iowa St. and Kansas St. falling earlier this week), behind the Kansas Jayhawks. Currently sitting at 21-8 (10-6) on the season, OU plays host to the West Virginia Mountaineers for the home finale at 8:05 PM CST tonight.
The last time these two team met, the Mountaineers had found their stride winning three in a row including the overtime win over the Sooners. After trailing by 12 points, OU managed to take a single possession lead. Yet, Eron Harris drilled a 3-pointer to take the game to overtime. Since that moment, Bob Huggins's squad has hit a rough patch going 2-4 in the last six games. That does not mean West Virginia is a team to be overlooked as a loss today hurts Oklahoma more than a win helps them.
Harris carries his fair share of the offensive load pouring in 18 points per game. Yet, his strength is found in 3-point shooting in an attempt to spread the floor. On the season, this kid connects on 41.9% of his attempts from behind the arc. Finding Harris on the perimeter can hinder what the Mountaineers try offensively. However, that's easier said than done.
Juwan Staten has proved he is one of the league's premier scorers throughout the duration of the season. Make no mistake, his style of ball compliments that of Harris. Although he is averaging 18 point per game, Staten possesses another talent rarely seen in scorers. That ability manifests itself in court vision and finding the open man evidenced by his 5.9 assists per game. A well rounded player, Staten will draw much of the focus but continues to be tough to stop.
The real problem lies on defense for West Virginia as they give up 73.1 points per contest. Without a rim protector and elite rebounder, the cause is near hopeless as the Mountaineers rely heavily on guard play. On the other end of the court, Bob Huggins hopes his backcourt can mix it up with Oklahoma's, a unit contributing 77% of the scoring under Lon Kruger.
Outside shooting at home continuously gives the Sooners a hand up. Buddy Hield's 77 three pointers lead the team but Tyler Neal and Cameron Clark are both 50% on the season. With all starters averaging double-digits, the question of who to focus on becomes a difficult one.