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Oklahoma Sooners Basketball: Oklahoma vs. West Virginia Preview and Game Thread

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Can the Sooners steal a win in one of the country's toughest environments?

Fresh off their first win in over a month, the Sooners will look to add another Big 12 win against the aggressive West Virginia Mountaineers. Lon Kruger and his boys have a daunting task, facing one of the best home court advantages in the country, and debatably the best defensive team in the country. West Virginia looks to threaten the decade-long reign KU has held over the conference, as OU hopes for its biggest win of the season. Can the Sooners slay Goliath?

How to watch

Oklahoma and West Virginia tip off at 6:00 PM CT, and the game will be televised on ESPN2 and Watch ESPN. Feel free to post in the game thread (located in the comments section) while watching the game.

Steal or no steal

West Virginia has really made an impression this season, and it has all started on the defensive side. Bob Huggins has managed to convince his players to fight just as much or even more on defense than on the offensive side. This is why West Virginia is first in the country in steals per game, steals per play, opponent turnovers per game and opponent turnovers per play. The game that really put West Virginia in the spotlight defensively was their 89-68 dominant route of the then-No. 1 Baylor Bears. West Virginia forced Baylor to 29 turnovers and stole the ball 15 times. The defense carries this team, but the offense is no joke either.

West Virginia is averaging 89.1 points per game, which ranks third in the country. Their average score margin of 26.7 points is the best in the country, and they are third in the country in offensive rebounds per game (13.8). They get to the free throw line quite a bit each game, averaging 27.5 free throws per game (4th). They are fourth in the country in field goals made per game (31.9) and sixth in the country in field goals attempted per game (65.9). Although they do a great job of making teams turn the ball over, they take care of the ball themselves. They are 4th in the country in assist/turnover ratio, 6th in the country in turnovers per play and 13th in the country in opponent steals per game. The Oklahoma Sooners may be facing their toughest game of the season.

Do we have a chance?

Before last game — although the Sooners did not look terrible — there were very few reasons to be hopeful. However, with their leader back in Jordan Woodard, the Sooners were able to defeat a Texas Tech team that has been surprising people this season. Although Oklahoma was statistically average in most facets of that matchup, Oklahoma grabbed 12 more rebounds than Texas Tech and shot a total of 37 free throws. This kind of production was due to the return of Woodard and the emergence of Rashard Odomes. This duo accounted for 21 of the 37 free throws and 51 of the total 84 points. As of today, these two are also the leading scorers on the team. With Woodard back, the Sooners will have a much better shot at taking care of the ball, getting to the free throw line and will be more likely to escape the scoring droughts that they have suffered from in the losing streak.

The series

The last matchup between these two happened in Kansas City, and ended with a Buddy Hield buzzer beater celebration that was shortened due to the refs overturning the call on the court. Despite West Virginia being fairly dominant in Morgantown, Oklahoma has a 2-2 record against WVU on the road. OU's last game at West Virginia resulted in a 76-62 win. Hield scored 29 points in that victory, as the Sooners outrebounded the Mountaineers by 11 and forced them into three more turnovers. Remarkably, Oklahoma went home almost unscathed turnover-wise, only coughing up the ball a total of nine times. OU is 8-4 overall against WVU, and Kruger is 7-3. In the last five matchups, both teams have been ranked, and in the last seven matchups the Sooners have been ranked. The last time the Sooners were unranked going into this matchup was back in 2013, and they faced an unranked West Virginia team and walked home with a win.

Prediction

The presence of Woodard will definitely help, but this game may end up being worse than OU's loss to Baylor. They may put together an inspiring effort, but the Sooners are simply outmatched in this one. West Virginia's fans will be ready to go, and this young OU team will be overwhelmed.

West Virginia 94, Oklahoma 70