No. 18 West Virginia looked every bit the part of a Big 12 challenger as they blew out No. 16 Oklahoma in a key game in the Big 12 race on Tuesday night, 86-65.
Both the Mountaineers and the Sooners were coming off of home losses, and in a conference as competitive as the Big 12 is going to be this season, every win comes at a premium. You must defend your home court.
On Tuesday, Bob Huggins’ crew did, forcing 22 turnovers and gathering 17 offensive rebounds — which led to a combined 36 points — as they completely took Oklahoma out of any rhythm offensively. It’s exactly the way that the Mountaineers want to play this season. They’re not overly talented — outside of Juwan Staten, they may not have a guy on the roster that is top five at his position in the league — but they’re big and physical and tough and, most importantly, deep.
West Virginia will wear you down with their effort and their intensity, and you saw that with Oklahoma, who is still trying to develop their bench. Point guard Jordan Woodard go into some foul trouble in the first half, and it was downhill from their. Neither Dinjiyl Walker nor Frank Booker were ready for this level, and Isaiah Cousins isn’t the kind of ball-handler that can be relied on against a press like West Virginia’s.
Ryan Spangler and TaShawn Thomas were forced to help bring the ball up against pressure, and that did not go well.
Jevon Carter led the way with 18 points, seven boards, three assists and three steals off the bench while Devin Williams had 14 points and 11 boards. Juwan Staten was just 1-for-9 from the floor, but he had eight assists and just one turnover.
The win moved West Virginia to 15-2 overall and 3-1 in Big 12 play. Oklahoma, however, is now 11-5 overall and 2-2 in the conference, having lost to Kansas State at home on Saturday. Their starting five can matchup with anyone in the country, but until they start getting consistent production off the bench — particularly in the back court — the Sooners are going to have nights like this.