Players score off bench as WVU crushes Oklahoma
Attitude, a team-wide readiness to hustle, rebound and defend as well as major contributions from its long bench were the hallmarks of West Virginia’s pulsating 86-65 conference win over a tiring Oklahoma team on Jan. 13 in the partially filled Coliseum.
All 11 of the players Coach Bob Huggins found playing time for gave clear indication that enthusiasm and effort were what they wanted to do and were not forced to do. The results were evident right from the outset when the twice-beaten Mountaineers took an early lead and never gave it away.
West Virginia’s 2014-15 trademark pressure defense was relentless. No matter who Huggins had on the Coliseum floor they all gave the constantly pressured Sooners no respite from the fatiguing and clinging defense the bench-thin visitors faced.
So masterful was West Virginia’s bench that it outscored the Soooners, 55-8. So forceful was the Mountaineer pressure defense that it caused 22 turnovers and aided in a 42-35 rebounding advantage the smaller but bouncy home team could claim.
Fatique among the Sooners became a factor by the mid-point of the first half. And then the interchangeable Mountaineers scored the last 10 points of the first half to get a 13-point lead by the break.
Devin Williams and rejuvenated Nathan Adrian were doing the most first-half damage to the pressured Sooners.
Those two were quickly joined by Javon Carter, Tarik Phillip, Elijah Macon, Jonathan Holton and Juwan Staten in the second half as the West Virginia lead grew to 60-40 and was kept in that safe range by three late-game three-pointers from Carter, who finished with a season-high 18 points.
The medium-sized crowd of 9,196 was treated to Williams’ 11 rebounds and 14 points, another 11 points and two first-half steals from Adrian, Cater’s seven rebounds, Phillip’s eight points and three steals, Macon’s nine points and three rebounds in only nine minutes, Holton’s six points and six rebounds and Staten’s eight assists and clamping pressure on any Oklahoma point guard.
West Virginia had a 15-2 overall record and was 3-1 in its four Big 12 games. There were 14 conference games left in the season.
The Sooners were staggered for the second straight game and flew back to Norman with five overall losses and a 1-2 league record.
A clearly seen enthusiasm to complete the task of turning away anything Oklahoma had brought was rewarded. All 11 players seemed available to the oft-sent message that “the team and its well-being are always more important than any players’ single agenda.”
West Virginia had a “team-first” message for the Sooners. And the “team” was a savory 21-point winner over Oklahoma, which came in as the No. 18-ranked team in the country.