Morgantown, WV (SportsNetwork.com) - Two teams looking to climb the Big 12 ladder collide on Wednesday evening, as the West Virginia Mountaineers play host to the 21st-ranked Oklahoma Sooners.
Lon Kruger's Sooners rode into last weekend's action with a four-game win streak in tow and plenty of confidence after a 88-76 besting of nationally- ranked Oklahoma State, but the streak came to an end on the road, with Saturday's 81-75 loss at nationally-ranked Iowa State. With the loss to the Cyclones, Oklahoma fell to 6-3 in the Big 12, trailing only Texas and Kansas in the conference standings.
Bob Huggins' Mountaineers are quietly going about their business and enter this game having won two straight and three of their last four, including a 81-71 victory over Kansas State on Saturday. With the win, West Virginia improved to 5-4 in the Big 12, still well within striking distance of the top teams.
Oklahoma has won four of the five previous meetings between these two teams.
Buddy Hield erupted for a career-high 30 points, but couldn't get a jumper to fall with two minutes remaining that would have put the Sooners in the lead. Instead, Oklahoma got no closer than two points the rest of the way against Iowa State, falling by six points in the end. The Sooners dominated the boards to the tune of a 46-33 rebounding edge, but couldn't take advantage. Isaiah Cousins recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Jordan Woodard followed with 10 points, while Ryan Spangler finished with eight points and 12 boards in the loss.
Consistency has been the key for Oklahoma this season. The Sooners are the only team in the country that has started the same five players in every game, with all five averaging double-figure scoring totals. Hield headlines the group with a solid 17.0 ppg thanks to his team-high 53 3-pointers. Clark is a close second in the scoring column at 16.1 ppg. Woodard (11.3 ppg), Spangler (11.1 ppg) and Cousins (10.4 ppg) round out the potent quintet. Spangler leads the conference in rebounding at 10.2 rpg. Overall, Oklahoma ranks ninth in the country in scoring at 83.5 ppg.
West Virginia has shown the ability to put points on the scoreboard in bunches as well, averaging a healthy 78.3 ppg. Juwan Staten and Eron Harris are an explosive duo. Staten ranks second in the conference in scoring at 18.0 ppg, while leading the Big 12 in assists with 6.0 apg. Harris ranks fourth in the Big 12 in scoring at 17.0 ppg and is one of the league's top snipers, with 58 3-pointers on .423 efficiency from long range. Terry Henderson rounds out the top scoring threats for WVU with 12.2 ppg.
It was a record-setting performance for Staten against Kansas State, as he scored a career-high 35 points, while matching a school-record with 18 made free-throws in the 10-point win. Henderson added 13 points in support, while Harris and Remi Dibo finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively. West Virginia shot a modest .434 for the game, but held a huge edge in points from the charity stripe (29-8).