The No. 17 Oklahoma Sooners will look to get back on the right track at the LNC tonight as they take on the No. 19 West Virginia Mountaineers in a Big Monday matchup. Oklahoma lost the previous meeting in Morgantown by a score of 89-76 back on Jan. 6.
Oklahoma (16-6, 6-4) vs. West Virginia (17-6, 6-4): 8 p.m. CT at the Lloyd Noble Center (11,562)
Commentary: Bob Wischusen, Fran Fraschilla and Holly Rowe
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Radio: Sooner Radio Network (KRXO 107.7 FM “The Franchise” in Oklahoma City; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa)
Line: Oklahoma -2.5 (as of 1:20 p.m. CT)
My favorite Oklahoma-West Virginia basketball moment (Jan. 16, 2016)
Just days after falling to Kansas in one of the greatest regular season games in the history of college basketball, Oklahoma was given no relief that Saturday against the No. 11 West Virginia Mountaineers. Nothing came easily that day for the Sooners, who made just 33.3 percent of their shots against a feisty group led by Jevon Carter. In spite of that fact, Oklahoma had an opportunity to win it with just seconds remaining and the score knotted at 68 apiece. After Jordan Woodard’s floater off the glass rimmed out, Khadeem Lattin tipped it in for the lead with just 2.8 left on the clock to effectively seal the deal. Lattin had missed the would-be game-winning free throw in Lawrence just five days earlier, so this was sweet, sweet redemption for the Houstonian. Two days later, Oklahoma moved up to No. 1 in the AP Poll for the first time since 1990.
About West Virginia
- Since defeating the Sooners back on Jan. 5, the Mountaineers have gone 3-5 with losses to Texas Tech, Kansas, TCU, Kentucky and Iowa State. The latter three losses came in consecutive games before WVU was finally able to end the skid with an 89-51 win over Kansas State in Morgantown this past Saturday.
- As is the case with a good chunk of the country at the moment, the Mountaineers have been dealing with the flu. Thus far it has impacted five WVU players and actually hospitalized senior Daxter Miles Jr at one point.
- As has been the case for what seems like six years, the Mountaineers are led by gritty veteran point guard Jevon Carter, who is averaging 16.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG and 6.8 APG. Carter did a great job defending Trae Young (with a little help from the zebras), so it’ll be interesting to see how that matchup goes this evening.
- Oklahoma is 9-6 all time against West Virginia and carries a 4-1 advantage in games played at the LNC.
- Defense on Young - The Mountaineers were really the first squad to provide a blueprint for effectively containing Trae Young. They pressured him heavily, forced him to give up the ball and kept the ball from getting back to him as much as the Sooners would’ve liked. Additionally, all of that pressure seemed to rattle him a bit at times. To the credit of Young and Lon Kruger, the freshman phenom handled all of this much better in the second half and was actually able to make things interesting at times. It’s fair to say that WVU will come back with plenty of pressure tonight, but how effective will it be this time around. Well, part of that depends on the next subject...
- Officiating - West Virginia’s success with the press often hinges on how the game is officiated. If officials frequently let WVU get away with a lot of contact on defense, OU could be in some trouble once again. If not, expect OU to be in the bonus early.
- Home shooting - We’re all sort of beating a dead horse at this point, but it has to be brought up as long as Brady Manek and Christian James continue to shoot the lights out at home while struggling on the road. Manek has made 20 of his 30 three-point attempts inside the LNC during conference play but has made only four of 20 away from home in Big 12 games. The gap isn’t quite as large for Christian James, but he’s shooting .455 from three in home conference games while shooting only .278 from deep on the road in Big 12 play. OU is nearly impossible to beat when those two hit their shots, which sort of helps explain why Oklahoma is undefeated at the LNC this season.
It’s tough to bet on the Sooners away from the LNC, but it’s just as tough to bet against them in Norman. The defense has been pitiful as of late, so I expect to see plenty of head-scratching lapses on that end. However, this team always seems to get the crucial stops at home. If past trends hold up for Oklahoma, expect Brady Manek to hit his threes against the Mountaineers tonight - although they really did do a great job defending him in Morgantown. Christian James is the man who I think will truly have the breakout game tonight for the Sooners after seeing the amount of effort he gave in Austin. The shots were’t falling for him, but his attitude and energy were impressive. If he can hit some shots tonight and keep the energy going, I like his chances of hitting the 20-point mark tonight.
Oklahoma 85, West Virginia 80