Mountaineers visit Sooners in clash of ranked Big 12 foes

Norman, OK ( - Hoping to keep pace in the race for Big 12 Conference supremacy, the 15th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers hit the road for Tuesday night's tussle with the 21st-ranked Oklahoma Sooners.

West Virginia has won its last three games to improve to 18-3 overall and 6-2 in conference. The Mountaineers disposed of visiting Texas Tech on Saturday, 77-58, raising their mark in home games this season to 8-2. As for their efforts outside of Morgantown, they are 4-1 in true road games and 10-1 all told when you factor in their perfect 6-0 mark in neutral-site affairs.

Oklahoma enters this fray sporting a 14-7 overall record, which includes just a 5-4 league ledger. The Sooners, who on Saturday earned a 64-56 road win over bitter rival Oklahoma State for their second straight sweep of the Bedlam Series, have won two in a row on the heels of a two-game slide and three losses in their previous four outings. OU is 9-1 at home this season.

These two teams met on WVU's home court on Jan. 13, and it was the Mountaineers who picked up the convincing win in an 86-65 final. Jevon Carter paced the home squad with 18 points, and Devin Williams logged a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. The Sooners, who committed an unsightly 22 turnovers, were led in defeat by Buddy Hield with 21 points.

As a result, West Virginia cut into Oklahoma's lead in the all-time series, which now stands at 5-3.

Williams scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead West Virginia to its rout of Texas Tech over the weekend. Freshman Daxter Miles Jr. added a dozen points, while Juwan Staten pitched in with 11 for the Mountaineers who shot well from the field (.481 overall, .409 from 3-point range), but not so much at the free-throw line (.552). Gary Browne tacked on 10 points for WVU, which was beaten on the boards (34-26), but goaded the hapless Red Raiders into a whopping 26 turnovers, off which the Mountaineers scored 33 points.

With a scoring average of 77.0 ppg, West Virginia ranks second in the Big 12, while its +13.4 scoring margin ranks first. The Mountaineers are also No. 1 in the conference in steals (12.4 per game), turnover margin (+9.95) and offensive rebounds (17.3 per game). The team's defensive stance permits an average of 63.6 ppg, although its ranks last in the league in both field goal percentage defense (.442) and 3-point percentage defense (.346). Staten is WVU's top scorer, as he nets 14.8 ppg while also serving as its primary playmaker with 4.4 apg. Williams is the only other double-digit scorer at the moment, as he turns in 11.3 ppg to go with his team-high 8.0 rpg.

Jordan Woodard scored a season-high 17 points and added a career-high five steals to help Oklahoma overcome a seven-point halftime deficit to knock off its most hated rival on Saturday. Hield tallied 12 of his 15 points after intermission, while Ryan Spangler finished with 13 points, nine rebounds and a career-high six assists. The Sooners shot just 40 percent from the field, but did a nice job of limiting Oklahoma State to 32 percent accuracy in the second half to pull ahead and steal the win. The Cowboys wound up missing 15 of their 19 3-point attempts in the ball game.

Hield continues to impress as he lead the Big 12 in scoring at 17.5 ppg. An 81.4 percent free-throw shooter, Hield adds 5.4 rpg and more than a steal per tilt to his stat line. He is joined in double figures by Isaiah Cousins (12.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg, league-leading .455 3-point FG percentage), TaShawn Thomas (10.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and Spangler (10.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg), while Woodward has dished out 92 assists and logged 31 steals to go with his 8.7 ppg. With an average of 72.5 ppg, Oklahoma sits third in the conference in scoring, while its effort in defending the 3-point shot (.296) ranks it first.