Heading into this game, no one could have foreseen what was about to take place. The Oklahoma Sooners took to the road to open Big XII Conference play against the West Virginia Mountaineers, a team they beat earlier this season. However, WVU would put up an array of shots from beyond the arc. The surprise...they were actually falling.
On the season, the Mountaineers were shooting a mere 27.5% from range heading into this game. Oklahoma would choose to go with a zone defense to exploit this stat. Yet, the nets were set ablaze as the Sooners held out on the fact that it was a fluke. Aaric Murray, a post player, got it started connecting on two of his three point attempts seeing an 8-7 score after hitting only four before this game. It was Terry Henderson who would take over the torch after this point. Henderson would finish with a game high 21 points on 6-11 shooting from beyond the arc.
In the first half alone, West Virginia would score 27 of their 35 points from three point land taking a 35-29 lead into the locker room.
The other factor contributing to a great outing by the Mountaineers was their ability to rebound on the offensive glass to earn second chance points. Again, in the first half, WVU collected 10 offensive boards on their way to out-rebounding a solid rebounding team in the Sooners.
The second half kicked off and appeared to be on it's way to mirroring the first. After the Mountaineers opened up a 12 point lead, Oklahoma began to take control with a man-to-man defense creating turnovers and fast breaks.
Leading the way for the Sooners was none other than Romero Osby who has remained consistent all year long. Osby finished the game with a game high tying 21 points along with 9 rebounds as Oklahoma ended the game winning the rebound margin by +3.
It wasn't until Murray picked up his 4th foul of the game that Oklahoma was finally able to put this one out of reach and create some separation. Can more be said of Steven Pledger and his ability to hit shots when they matter the most? Pledger started the game off in a slump but finished on a high note as he drained a couple key 3-pointers. He will continue to be that guy who isn't afraid to fire off a shot when no one else wants to.
Buddy Hield has become an instrumental part of this team. While he is not the scoring option we once thought he was, he still has that potential. However, it is Hield doing what is asked of him that makes this a better unit. He would finish the game with 7 rebounds and 5 assists.
As this team continues to gel and mesh together, they could become a force to reckon with. There are obviously some communication errors as well as freshman mistakes but nonetheless, it is a promising group. Even more so the Sooners have something to look forward to in the future!