It's been said that one of the most difficult things to do in sports is to beat a team three times in the same season. That's exactly the task that the Oklahoma Sooners are faced with in order to get to the conference tournament championship game. Boosted by Buddy Hield's 39 points, the Sooners bounced two-time defending tournament champions Iowa State on Thursday night. Now they have second seeded West Virginia standing in their way.
The Mountaineers ended TCU's season on Thursday night to pick up their 25th win of the season and fifth in a row. In fact, West Virginia hasn't lost since Oklahoma downed them 76-62, in Morgantown, on February 20th. Three Sooners scored in double figures in that game, led by Hield's 29 points. The two teams also met in Norman on January 17th where a late tip-in by Khadeem Lattin provided the clinching basket in a 70-68 Oklahoma win.
The Mountaineers may be streaking at just the right time. Their current winning streak includes a victory over Iowa State a road win over Baylor, both ranked teams.
|Points Per Game||80.8||79.8|
|Rebounds Per Game||39.1||39.7|
|Assists Per Game||14.6||14.9|
Oklahoma's two keys to victory are breaking West Virginia's press and keeping Buddy in rhythm. The Mountaineers are going to keep doing what they do best, which is force turnovers and then capitalize on them. The Sooners have been able to escape "Press Virginia" in large part to Buddy Hield, who is averaging 23 points a game against the Mountaineers.
It was vintage Buddy in Kansas City on Thursday night against the Iowa State Cyclones and that's pretty much going to be the deciding factor against West Virginia. If Buddy has found his higher gear then you can't help but like Oklahoma's chances. If not, then the third time may be the charm for the Mountaineers.