Kansas City—The Sooners had a 98 percent chance of making the NCAA Tournament with a win over West Virginia, according to ESPN’s BPI. Oklahoma was just inches away from sending the game into overtime and getting a second chance to put the Mountaineers away to ensure a spot in the Big Dance.
Christian James pulled up at the buzzer, making a three-pointer to temporarily tie the game at 72-72. Upon further review of the shot, officials saw that James’ right toe was on the line, making the shot worth 2 points. The result; a one-point loss to the worst team in the Big 12. The inch difference of James’ foot being on the line dropped the Sooners’ chances to just 56 percent.
Oklahoma came out of the gates just as they have for much of Big 12 play. They hit shots at an impressive clip but turned the ball over and played so-so defensively. OU surged in the later stages of the first half to take a halftime lead over the Mountaineers, 35-33.
Coming out of the break, OU let West Virginia hang around as the Sooners settled for poor looks and shot themselves in the foot with unforced errors.
Oklahoma could not keep their 54 percent shooting pace that they put up in the first half, shooting just over 35 percent in the second half.
Although it was a losing effort, the Sooners got what they needed out of their usual suspects.
Brady Manek set a new season high in points with 22. His scoring outbursts kept OU within striking range as Oklahoma failed to play a complete game down the stretch.
Kristian Doolittle fell just one rebound short of a double-double, posting 18 points and 9 rebounds along with 3 assists and 3 steals. His all-around effort allowed the floor to open up offensively, something the Sooners will need if indeed they find a way into the NCAA Tournament.
As for now, the Sooners’ season is in limbo. Oklahoma needs a bit of help if they want their season to continue. Currently, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has OU as a 9-seed, prior to tonight’s loss. To make the Big Dance, OU needs favorites to beat teams that they should and hope for no upsets. Oklahoma does have a solid resumé, boasting the twelfth strongest schedule in the country.
Kruger and company will find out if the selection committee is willing to give the Sooners a chance to cut down nets come April.