Knowing this was a must win coming off a four game losing streak, Oklahoma came out the gates hot. More Specifically it was Tanner Groves that gave the Sooners an early start by making his first four-of-five buckets, helping the Sooners to lead by seven.
“I feel like the last four games we kind of had a little bit of a skid,” Tanner Groves said. I think our team did an incredible job of bouncing back.”
On the defensive end, each player knew their assignments and did not allow the Mountaineers room to breath. West Virginia went through a six minute scoring drought missing seven consecutive shots.
Defensively, Oklahoma was well oiled machine, and the players began anticipating the Mountaineer’s passes. The Sooners forced 15 West Virginia turnovers and converted those turnovers into 20 points.
Porter Moser said,”I’m happy with a lot of things we did defensively.”
West Virginia caught some steam before the end of the first half but Jacob Groves doused their fire by making a half court buzzer beater to award Oklahoma an eight point lead at the half. He finished with 12 points and shot two-of-four from the perimeter.
“I just think that this game was just awesome.Helping his confidence and getting him going a little bit too,” Tanner Groves said.
Tanner Groves began the second half just like the first, on fire. He led all scorers with 21 points on an efficient nine-of-eleven shooting.
“You could just see him get that confidence back,” Moser said.
The Sooners spent the majority of the second half building their lead. Making two consecutive shots from behind the arc to extend Oklahoma’s lead to 14 was Umoja Gibson. He shot four-of-eight from the floor and finished with 12 points.
By cutting to the basket, attacking the paint, and making five shots from the perimeter Oklahoma built their lead to 17.
While the Sooners continued their offensive production, they put on a defensive clinic. One of West Virginia’s biggest offensive threats, Sean McNeil, remained scoreless until 6:18 left when he made his first and only bucket outside of free throws.
“Our culture comes down to defense, I think thats what we’re known for,” Tanner Groves said.
With six minutes left in the game West Virginia mustered all their strength to attempt a comeback. Gabe Osabuohien made four consecutive free throws and finessed a driving layup ignite the Mountaineers. West Virginia went on a nine-zero run in just over a minute to quench the Sooner’s lead to eight.
Although Oklahoma had seemingly locked the game away, the Sooners maintained their lead in the last six minutes only off of free throws. They were lucky to go 19-of-20 from the charity stripe or else the game might have had a different outcome. The Sooners made 11 of their last 13 points from free throws.
“You have to do that to win on the road and you have to do that to hold a lead,” Master said.
It was Bijan Cortes who turn the dagger by finishing a layup in the last minute. This gave Oklahoma a ten point lead and ultimately won them the game.
“We came out here and got the win,” Tanner Groves said,”which was the most important thing. It just feels incredible.”
Even though the Sooners are given a little bit of a break from the Big 12 their upcoming matchup will not be an easy opponent. Oklahoma has been assigned to play number one ranked Auburn in the Big 12/SEC challenge. This won’t be an easy one but at least the Sooners have had experience competing against top five teams.