NORMAN, Okla. (AP) James Bolden knows his opportunities to play for West Virginia often are limited, so he has to maximize the minutes he receives. His ability to do so helped the 13th-ranked Mountaineers immensely on Wednesday night.
The freshman guard scored a career-high 17 points in 10 minutes and West Virginia survived an off-shooting night to beat Oklahoma 61-50.
West Virginia (19-5, 7-4 Big 12) won for the first time ever at Oklahoma (8-15, 2-9) in five attempts and avenged an overtime defeat at the hands of the Sooners, who won 89-87 in Morgantown on Jan. 18.
The Mountaineers won despite shooting a season-low 37 percent from the field. West Virginia used its frenetic press to force 23 turnovers, 11 more than the Sooners committed in the previous meeting, and limited the Sooners to 33.3 percent shooting.
Bolden entered Wednesday having played only 107 minutes in 15 games. His previous career high had been nine points vs. VMI on Dec. 10, but against the Sooners he went 6 of 11 from the field and 3 of 6 from 3-point range. In the first half, he scored 15 of West Virginia’s 27 points.
“I just get in and do what I do in the time I get,” Bolden said. “When I’m called on, I’ve just got to be ready. I’ve got older guys in front of me . that are going to take the majority of the minutes. If I can get in, I’m going to try and contribute to the team.”
Kameron McGusty scored 11 points for the Sooners, who were so frazzled on offense that they burned all four of their timeouts by the 8:10 mark of the second half. Oklahoma lost its sixth straight since its win at West Virginia and posted a season low for points.
“West Virginia’s pressure bothered us a lot,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “We didn’t handle it nearly as well as you have to to have a chance to beat a good ball club.
“I just didn’t think we moved with the same conviction to be available. West Virginia is going to work hard. They usually do. They try to cut you with their pressure. It didn’t kill us there but it did tonight. I thought they definitely won that battle.”
Bolden kept West Virginia afloat in the first half and gave them a 27-25 halftime lead with a driving layup right before the buzzer.
“I think he is terrific,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said of Bolden. “He has been doing well in practice. You try to work those guys up.”
Nathan Adrian took over in the second half for the Mountaineers, scoring eight of his 13 points. His putback with 7:12 left gave West Virginia its first double-digit lead of the game at 48-38 and Jevon Carter followed with a 3-pointer from the corner for the Mountaineers.
Seven straight points by the Sooners – four by Khadeem Lattin, who tied a career high with 14 rebounds – pulled them within 51-45 with 5:15 left, but they came no closer as West Virginia outscored them 10-5 in the final 5 minutes.
“That’s what the Bob Huggins way is – we compete and play hard,” Bolden said. “We’ve just got to play hard for 40 minutes. If we do that and still play bad, you can get a win.”
Oklahoma jumped to an 11-2 lead in the first 4 minutes and led for all but a few seconds of the first half, despite going without a field goal for almost 8 minutes in one stretch.
West Virginia: Every team will have bad nights and the Mountaineers were fortunate to have survived one of theirs without taking a loss. They will have to play much better in upcoming games against Sunflower State foes Kansas State and Kansas.
Oklahoma: Once again – as in an earlier loss to Kansas – a young Oklahoma squad held tough for a half with a ranked Big 12 foe at home before fading down the stretch. The Sooners have been close in nearly every game during their six-game losing streak but haven’t made winning plays in the final minutes.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers could have dropped several spots with a loss, but now their poll fate for next week depends on how they fare Saturday at Kansas State.
West Virginia played without starting guard Daxter Miles Jr., who sat out with a sprained right ankle that he injured earlier this week in practice. The university listed Miles’ status as day-to-day. Tarik Phillip started in place of Miles. . McGusty extended his streak of double-digit scoring games to 11, the longest by an OU freshman since Jeff Webster had 22 straight in 1990-91. . The loss was Oklahoma’s 100th in Lloyd Noble Arena since the facility opened in 1975. The Sooners have won 533 home games during the same period. . Huggins has 810 career wins and needs two more to tie Rollie Massimino for eighth place on the all-time Division I coaching wins list.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers will host one of Huggins’ former teams, Kansas State, on Saturday before a trip to Lawrence, Kansas, to face No. 3 Kansas next Monday.
Oklahoma: The Sooners’ next three games are against teams that beat them in the final seconds of earlier games – at Iowa State on Saturday, at home vs. Texas next Tuesday and at Oklahoma State on Feb. 18.
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