NORMAN, Okla. — Kristian Doolittle scored 27 points and played a critical role in helping overcome West Virginia’s defensive pressure early to lead Oklahoma to a 69-59 win over the No. 13 Mountaineers on Saturday.
Though the Sooners finished with 19 turnovers, much of West Virginia’s defensive success happened late, after Oklahoma (15-8, 5-5 Big 12) had already built an 18-point lead.
Outside of that stretch, guards De’Vion Harmon and Jamal Bieniemy – as well as Doolittle – took care of the ball and helped the Sooners overcome the Mountaineers’ size advantage inside.
Harmon turned the ball over just once in 31 minutes.
West Virginia led early thanks to a big rebounding edge. Of the Mountaineers’ first 16 points, 11 were of the second-chance variety.
But with 6-foot-9 Oscar Tshiebwe on the bench for most of the final 13 minutes of the first half, the Sooners weren’t as overmatched inside and Oklahoma made a run.
The 17-2 burst pushed the Sooners ahead by 10, 26-16. West Virginia was just 1 of 11 from the field during the stretch.
West Virginia had a chance to cut the lead to one in the closing seconds of the first half.
But as Chase Harler was elevating for a 3-pointer that was on target, the Mountaineers’ Derek Culver was called for a foul under the basket.
After a review to see if the foul was flagrant, Harmon dribbled the clock out before nailing a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Sooners a 31-24 lead at the break.
Jermaine Haley led the Mountaineers (18-5, 6-4) with 15 points.
Oklahoma: While the Sooners’ NCAA Tournament resume was solid but not spectacular heading into the game, they were in desperate need of a signature win. Oklahoma is in the midst of a stretch where they play six of eight games against teams either ranked or one spot out of the poll. The win was the first for the Sooners against a ranked opponent this season.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers dropped to 1-3 on the road in Big 12 play. West Virginia remains solidly in the NCAA Tournament field but they’re entering a rough week on the schedule, with No. 1 Baylor on the road after a midweek home game against No. 3 Kansas.
In the first 25 minutes of the game, West Virginia was just 1 of 10 from behind the 3-point line. Much like their defensive pressure, the Mountaineers’ outside shooting didn’t wake up until the game was in control for Oklahoma. West Virginia hit its last five 3-pointers over the final 15 minutes but never could get closer than eight after the early minutes of the second half.
West Virginia hosts No. 3 Kansas on Wednesday. The Jayhawks beat the Mountaineers, 60-53, on Jan. 4 in both teams’ Big 12 opener. West Virginia is 5-1 against Kansas at home since 2014.
Oklahoma hosts Iowa State on Wednesday. The Sooners fell 81-68 at the Cyclones on Jan. 11. Oklahoma hasn’t beaten the Cyclones since 2018.