WVU eyes historic feat against Sooners
After a convincing victory over No. 1 Kansas on Tuesday night, West Virginia has a chance to achieve a rare feat Saturday: The Mountaineers can knock off the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the country in the same week.
West Virginia (15-1, 4-0 Big 12) faces guard Buddy Hield and the second-ranked Oklahoma Sooners at 4 p.m. Saturday in Norman, Okla,, in its first major Big 12 road test.
With a win, the Mountaineers can catapult themselves toward the top of the national rankings — and, in doing so, become the first team in more than 25 years to defeat the nation's top two teams in one week.
But while the Mountaineers want to write their names in the record books, they have approached this week focused on loftier goals.
“We want to win this conference,” sophomore forward Elijah Macon said.
This Mountaineers team already has made program history with its victory over Kansas, marking the first time West Virginia has beaten a top-ranked team since Lester Rowe's thunderous slam capped an 87-78 win over Jerry Tarkanian, Sidney Green and UNLV in 1983.
The last team to knock off Nos. 1 and 2 in the same week was Kansas during the 1989-90 season, when the Jayhawks took down LSU and top-ranked UNLV on back-to-back days in the Preseason NIT.
West Virginia is the first team to face the nation's top two teams in consecutive games since Missouri in February 1997, according to ESPN.
The Tigers started with a double-overtime win over Paul Pierce and No. 1 Kansas before falling to Tim Duncan and No. 2 Wake Forest five days later.
It's a rare feat, but Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins made clear the historical aspect of a win over Oklahoma hasn't factored into his team's mindset.
“We really haven't talked about it,” Huggins said Friday afternoon. “We're trying to do what we've been doing, staying on an even keel. Hopefully, we prepare as much as we possibly can ... to get ready.”
The Mountaineers are riding momentum thanks to an eight-game winning streak, highlighted by their third straight home win over the Jayhawks — and the third straight to end in a court storming at WVU Coliseum.
A win over Oklahoma, which took Kansas to the brink in an instant-classic, triple-overtime game in Lawrence two weeks ago, would affirm the Mountaineers' place as one of the nation's premier teams.
Hield, a Wooden Award candidate, leads one of the most prolific offenses in the country, tallying 26.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game for a team that hasn't lost at home in more than a year.
David Statman is a freelance writer.