Norman, Ok- This was a must win game for the Sooners in order to keep their dreams of the big dance alive. Securing a win on Senior Night, Oklahoma triumphed over the Mountaineers 72-59.
The Sooners defense held strong against West Virginia. They contested shot so well that the mountaineers missed 17 consecutive field goals.
Finishing the first half by only making 22 percent of their shots from the field, the Mountaineers could not buy a bucket in Norman.
Moser said,” overall, I was really pleased with how we guarded and did some things. We got some key stops.”
Not making a field for over ten minutes really hurt West Virginia and Oklahoma capitalized on their opportunities.
Making plays off their steady defense, the Sooners went on a 13-0 run to award them a 28-14 lead.
Yet after this stint it seemed like Oklahoma had no gas left to extend their lead heading into halftime. They remained scoreless for the last four minutes of the first half.
Meanwhile West Virginia knew if they did not push before the second half, they would stand a chance against the Sooners.
The Mountaineers ended the first half on a 10-0 run. Crushing Oklahoma’s lead to just four points, the score was now 28-24.
By only being up four, the Sooners knew they had to bring the energy and extend their lead.
Clearly, Tanner Groves understood the assignment.
He made Oklahoma’s first points of the second half by snatching an offensive rebound away from three West Virginia players surrounding him to finish a putback.
Obtaining defensive rebounds, exploiting the paint, and making points off of turnovers helped the Sooners regain a double digit lead.
“We were getting downhill and being more aggressive in the second half,” Moser said.
Oklahoma converted 23 points off of West Virginia’s turnovers and out-rebounded the mountaineers defensively 20-16.
Impressively, the Sooners controlled the paint from the jump. They outscored West Virginia from points in the paint 36-22. Of course leading the charge was Groves.
Groves displayed his dominance in the lane by aggressively dunking over West Virginia’s Pauly Paulicap. His assertiveness got Groves the and-one on his dunk.
“He’s embracing his physicality like these last three or four games. You’re just seeing the physicality. He’s embracing it. He’s not shying away from it. He’s not worried about it. Tanner has been getting the rebounds in traffic,” Moser said.
Over a 1:17 minute stretch Groves scored a solid triple, followed by a layup and finished with another big three-pointer to extend the Sooner’s lead from seven points to 13.
“Jordan (Goldwire) got downhill a couple of times. I hit a couple threes and you know, we just got it going and the momentum carried us from there and you know, it’s all good and happy. We were able to send the seniors out with the last home win,” Groves said.
Oklahoma staying poised down the stretch led them to their second consecutive victory beating West Virginia 72-59.
“Moser said,”we needed these two and so it felt to get a little separation and confidence.”
Leading the Sooners Groves recorded a double double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Oklahoma will face Kansas State next in Manhattan on Saturday at 3pm.