West Virginia continues slide, loses at Oklahoma
NORMAN, Okla. — Jamal Bieniemy was calm under pressure.
The freshman guard scored a season-high 22 points and made 8 of 10 free throws in the closing minutes to help Oklahoma beat West Virginia, 92-80, on Saturday.
Oklahoma led by 13 when West Virginia coach Bob Huggins had his team start fouling Bieniemy intentionally, starting with 3 minutes, 8 seconds remaining. Bieniemy had only attempted 12 free throws this season with six makes before Saturday’s game. He missed two of his first three before making the next seven.
Huggins said West Virginia had a lot to do with Bieniemy’s overall performance.
“When you throw it to him as much as we threw it to him during a stretch and you don’t get back on defense the way we didn’t get back on defense, which is inexcusable on our part, then you’re going to score,” Huggins said. “Then, we fouled him at the end because he is a 50 percent free-throw shooter on the year, and he made free throws.”
Aaron Calixte also had a season-high 22 points for Oklahoma. He made 8 of 11 shots and 3 of 5 3-pointers.
“Coach did a good job of putting me in spots, and Jamal did a good job of finding me,” Calixte said.
Kristian Doolittle scored 15 points, and Brady Manek added 14 for the Sooners (18-11, 6-10 Big 12), who have won three of four to strengthen their case for an NCAA Tournament bid. Oklahoma shot a season-high 59 percent from the field.
Jermaine Haley scored a season-high 23 points, and Jordan McCabe added 18 for West Virginia (11-18, 3-13), which has lost six of seven.
West Virginia won the first meeting 79-71 on Feb. 2. The Sooners felt they were more prepared for West Virginia’s physical style of play this time . They held Mountaineers forward Derek Culver to nine points and nine rebounds. He had 13 points and 14 rebounds when they played the first time.
“I feel like this game, we were more physical and more focused on boxing out,” Doolittle said. “First time you play somebody (the) scout team can only simulate so much of what the other team is going to do. We had a good gameplan coming into this game, good emphasis on Culver.”
Oklahoma fell behind in the early minutes before taking charge. The Sooners shot 58 percent in the first half to take a 42-28 lead at the break. Bieniemy scored 12 points in the first half.
Oklahoma led 54-41 in the second half before going on a 13-2 run. Despite its late fouling, West Virginia never really got back into the game.
The Mountaineers broke their five-game losing streak with a 104-96 triple-overtime win over TCU on Tuesday, but they went right back to playing the way they did during their skid.
“They made shots, and we turned it over, basically,” Huggins said.