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Oklahoma Sooners Narrowly Avoid West Virginia Mountaineers Upset Bid 70-68

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Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Relentlessly bringing pressure in the backcourt, the West Virginia Mountaineers dictated the pace of play. The continuously evolving philosophy of basketball completely knocked the Oklahoma Sooners off their game. Failing to knock down shots, the 7-0 lead quickly turned into a 20-15 deficit. However, with the WVU style of play, opposing coaches know more than a handful of trips to the line are in store.

It's a strategy Bob Huggins remains comfortable with employing a ten man rotation. But, Lon Kruger's squad made the most of each trip connecting on 13-of-15 attempts from the line in the first half. Without the Sooners' shot blocker Khadeem Lattin and West Virginia's leading scorer Devin Williams on the floor due to foul trouble others were require to step up.

The player carrying the load for WVU was none other than Jaysean Paige who scored a game high 18 points off the bench. Regardless, 13-of-15 shooting from the charity stripe from OU knotted up the score at 34-34 heading into the locker room.

The second half played out similarly as Oklahoma found themselves in the double bonus with over nine minutes remaining in regulation. While Buddy Hield may not have put up the volume of shots fans are accustomed to, the guard made big plays time and time again. The senior finished with 17 points, four steals, four rebounds, and two blocks.

Yet, Lattin deserves the label of hero in the closing seconds of play. Hoping to increase the lead, the Sooners called a timeout allowing Coach Kruger to draw up a play. Unfortunately the play did no appear to go as designed while Isaiah Cousins settled for a contested 3-point attempt that clanged off the back of the rim. Skying for the rebound, Hield tangled arms with Jonathan Holton and was eventually called for the foul. As a 73% free throw shooter, Holton knocked down both attempts tying the game at 68-68 with 26 seconds remaining.

Crossing midcourt, Oklahoma took their second timeout of the game. As play resumed, Jordan Woodard found himself with the ball in his hands and a chance to win the contest. Putting up the shot, it rimmed out. Following the play, Lattin tipped the ball back toward the hoop watching it fall through the bottom of the net.

Although the Mountaineers had plenty of time to get a shot, plans changed as Hield tipped the pass forcing a 3/4 court shot that sailed left as OU held on to win 70-68.