The Big 12 gave us another great game between contenders: We might not see another Kansas-Oklahoma four-overtime affair for a long time. But the Big 12 delivered in the spotlight again with a fight between two league powerhouses. There were multiple lead changes and ties. West Virginia’s run in the second half preceded Oklahoma’s 9-0 rally with nine minutes to go. West Virginia’s pressure led to 18 Oklahoma turnovers. Buddy Hield and Jaysean Paige both carried their respective squads.
And with 25.9 seconds to play, the game was tied again before Khadeem Lattin's late tip-in sealed the win for Oklahoma.
The Big 12 continues to spoil us with early, highly-anticipated battles that live up to the hype. That’s not easy to do. But the Big 12 is must-see TV.
Free throws, man. Free throws: With 9:35 to go, Oklahoma was in the double bonus and Ryan Spangler was at the free throw line, where the Sooners spent a chunk of the afternoon. How did a squad that was shooting just 33 percent with 3:43 to go stay alive against a team like West Virginia? The Sooners made 27 of their 32 free throws. They can thank West Virginia for its 27 fouls (the drawback of that intense press). West Virginia made 13-of-22 at the charity stripe. This was a physical matchup between two elite teams that were sloppy throughout the game. But Oklahoma capitalized on its opportunities at the free throw line, the most significant factor in Saturday’s win.
Buddy Hield is still really good: The Wooden Award candidate collected 17 points, four rebounds, four steals and two blocks. It wasn’t a 40-plus effort, but he finished 4-for-8 from the 3-point line and played like the frontrunner for an abundance of national awards. Again. By now, we shouldn’t be surprised.
Jaysean Paige gets buckets: West Virginia didn’t win, but Paige (18 points) excelled. He’s recorded 16 points or more in seven of his last 10 contests.
Officials missed a key charge late: With 5:59 to go, a charge against Jordan Woodard that put Paige on the free throw line seemed like the wrong call. Replays showed that Woodard was in position before Paige started his upward motion. Seemed like an easy call that went against Woodard.
West Virginia misses history: The Mountaineers had a chance to join a short list of teams that managed to secure back-to-back wins against the No. 1 and No. 2 squads in the country. Kansas was the last team to achieve the feat when it defeated North Carolina (No. 1) and Memphis (No. 2) in the national semifinals and national title game in 2008. The last team a team achieved the mark in the regular season was the 1989-90 Kansas squad, which defeated Shaquille O'Neal's No. 2 LSU squad and No. 1 UNLV, the eventual national champion, in a six-day stretch. Five teams overall have won consecutive games against the top two teams in the country.
West Virginia survives crucial stretch: Early in the second half, Devin Williams and Esa Ahmad both went to the bench after picking up their third fouls. With the duo sidelined, Oklahoma had a chance to make a run, especially if they could score inside. Instead, the Mountaineers seized a seven-point lead. A sequence that started with a forced turnover and bucket on the inbounds pass. A West Virginia block and an Oklahoma intentional foul led to a momentum swing and 48-41 advantage for West Virginia. That stretch could have ended West Virginia’s chances but the Mountaineers showcased their poise in that critical moment.