Morgantown, WV (SportsNetwork.com) - One of two Big 12 matchups featuring a pair of nationally-ranked programs on Tuesday night, the West Virginia Mountaineers are set to host the Oklahoma Sooners at WVU Coliseum.
The Mountaineers, who dropped two spots in the rankings to 16th this week, had been enjoying a seven-game win streak heading into last weekend before suffering a 74-72 loss to Iowa State at home. That meeting was the eighth time that the Coliseum had hosted a game where both programs were ranked in the top-20, and now this is the ninth.
The 18th-ranked Sooners are also coming off a loss in their last outing, going down to Kansas State at home, in overtime, on Saturday by a score of 66-63. The defeat snapped a four-game win streak and was the fourth overall for the program, which makes Oklahoma one of three teams ranked in the top-20 with as many setbacks, the others being Texas and North Carolina.
With five wins in seven chances, the Sooners lead the all-time series between the two squads. The schools split a pair of meetings last season, with each winning on its home floor as WVU posted a 91-86 triumph in Morgantown, and the Sooners claiming a 72-62 verdict in Norman.
Getting the game to overtime against Kansas State was one thing, but then the Sooners took only three shots from the floor in the five-minute period, enough of a reason why Oklahoma came up short at home over the weekend. Buddy Hield did his best to give the Sooners a fighting chance as he tallied a game-high 31 points on 11-of-20 shooting from the floor, including 5-of-9 behind the 3- point line, but the rest of his teammates came up empty on six shots out on the perimeter. TsShawn Thomas recorded a double-double consisting of 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Ryan Spangler finished with nine points, nine boards and four blocked shots.
Hield is the driving force behind the offense for the Sooners, producing 16.8 ppg with the help of a team-best 44 3-pointers. Isaiah Cousins pitches in with another 12.7 ppg as he not only shows good aim on the outside with 44.4 percent success, he is also one of the better rebounders with 6.1 boards per contest. Thomas (11.9 ppg) and Spangler (9.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg) lend support on offense and have combined for 38 blocked shots, which have been crucial to the unit limiting opponents to just 59.4 ppg.
Also caught in a close one, the Mountaineers didn't go top overtime against Iowa State on Saturday, but the result was still the same as what the Sooners experienced. West Virginia shot a dismal 32.4 percent from the floor and just 7-of-29 behind the 3-point line in the meeting, but managed to remain in contention until the very end by forcing 18 turnovers.
Juwan Staten accounted for a game-high 23 points, Devin Williams registered a double-double with 14 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, while Jaysean Paige pitched in with 10 points in just 13 minutes off the bench before fouling out, although he did shoot just 2-of-9 from the floor.
Staten continues to be the key factor on offense for the Mountaineers as he generates 16.5 ppg and also hand's out 4.0 apg to get teammates like Williams (10.8 ppg) and Jonathan Holton (10.0 ppg) involved in the action. Williams paces the group with 7.7 rpg, while Holton comes in second in that department with 6.4 rpg and even though no one else is pulling down more than 3.3 rpg (Staten), the program is still beating opponents on the glass by an average of six per contest.