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Oklahoma Sooners Basketball: OU wallops West Virginia, 73-62

Oklahoma likely booked its March Madness ticket with a pristine performance in Morgantown.

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma Sooners were once again too much for the No. 20 West Virginia Mountaineers (19-10, 7-9), pulling out the 73-62 victory. With the upset win, OU improves to 18-11 on the season, 8-8 in Big 12 play and fourth in the conference standings.

Out of all the lop-sided statistics from this contest, one of the more eye-popping stats was the fact that Lon Kruger’s starting five outscored Bob Huggins’ group on Saturday, 67-28. Leading the charge was senior forward Kristian Doolittle with 19 points on 7-13 shooting from the field and 5-8 from the stripe. Another key contributor was sophomore Jamal Bieniemy, who tied his season-high versus a Big 12 opponent with 12 points, including two makes from deep.

In the first half, Oklahoma and West Virginia sluggishly traded buckets as well as the lead in the early going before the Sooners created some slight separation from the Mountaineers down the stretch. Perhaps the key to seizing momentum for OU going into halftime was keeping a lid on the restless WVU crowd, and all things considered that’s exactly how things played out. The aforementioned Bieniemy led all scorers with eight points over the first 20 minutes of the game as the road underdogs captured a 25-21 advantage at the intermission.

The second half started slow amid an end of half time-keeping controversy from before the break. Once that mess was finally out of the way, the Sooners gradually pulled away thanks in large part to its veteran leaders Doolittle and junior forward Brady Manek. Before long, Oklahoma’s lead ballooned to as much as 21 points, but it didn’t last long as Press Virginia entered the building to stage an improbable comeback. To their credit, the Mountaineers battled back, closing the gap to as little as eight, but it was too little too late as OU was able to hold on for a drama-free conclusion.

Coming into the day, WVU held the No. 17 spot in the NCAA NET rankings, giving OU a high-quality season sweep to bolster its postseason resume. Barring a total meltdown over the final couple games and in the Big 12 Tournament, the Sooners should have a strong case for making the NCAA Tournament. In a couple of the latest Bracketology reports updated before Saturday’s results, Oklahoma was projected as an 11-seed by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and a 10-seed by CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm.

Up next, Oklahoma returns to the Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday, Mar. 3 to host Red River rival Texas (18-11, 8-8). Going into the contest, the Longhorns are riding the high of a four-game winning streak, and are seeking to even the score after the Sooners won the previous meeting in Austin, 72-62. With both teams vying for a berth in the Big Dance, more than typical bragging rights will be on the line next week. Tip-off for OU’s final home game of the season is scheduled for 8 p.m. CT and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2.

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