No. 6 Mountaineers Used Balance Scoring Effort To Push Past Seventh-Ranked Oklahoma
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia hammed it up – leaving egg all over Oklahoma’s face.
With Jevon Carter on the bench for 10 minutes in the midst of the second half, the Mountaineers turned to a total team performance on offense in getting scoring from five different players during the key stretch to extend a two-point lead to 76-68 with 3:43 left sans its best player.
It shocked the Sooners, who saw Carter’s exit at the 13:30 mark as a chance to build upon already surging momentum. Down 44-36 at the half, OU clawed back in via a 17-7 push over the first six minutes of the second half. The last off those points came via freshman sensation Trae Young, who drew the fourth foul on Carter while hitting the resulting free throws. But just when it seemed OU was ready to seize the Top 10 showdown, Press Virginia showcased its depth and used timely buckets by Teddy Allen and Sags Konate to outscore Oklahoma 25-15 with Carter out of the game.
“The other guys that we are bringing in are getting better,” said head coach Bob Huggins, who won his 15th game over a top 10 foe while at West Virginia. “As long as we can keep hamming and egging it. I think I said this last time, but it’s like a golf scramble. Everyone doesn’t have to hit a good shot, just somebody. That’s kind of what has happened to us. Someone always steps up and makes plays.
“We’ve kind of played that way all year, really, if you think about it. It hasn’t been all JC. I mean certainly what he does on the defensive end is special, but it hasn’t been all him. Dax (Miles) has had his moments. Teddy has had moments. Beetle (Bolden) has had moments.”
The foursome, Konate included, indeed had their moments again. With Carter on the bench and WVU trailing 53-51, Konate hit a pair of jumpers just inside the foul line before Allen and West also connected from outside the paint to nurse along a 59-55 edge inside 12 minutes. After Miles sank a driving lay-in, Allen, Konate and West repeated the feat, each accounting for two of West Virginia’s next six points. The scoring balance meant Oklahoma wasn’t able to easily double, and that segued into even better looks.
The pattern continued until Carter reentered with 3:48 left. From the time of his fourth foul to that point, Konate scored 10 points, while Allen and West had six each. Miles and Wes Harris combined for the other three points, meaning five players combined for 25 points over a 10-minute stretch that helped the Mountaineers (14-1, 3-0) win a 14th straight game – the longest streak in 29 seasons.
“I told them whenever it was, two days ago, three days ago, that you’re going to have open jump shots,” Huggins said. “Then, the light went off and, ‘Man, I better get in there and practice because I’m actually going to get to shoot it now.’ (Konate) is getting better and better. The game has slowed down for him a bit. I told them, if they back off, you have to shoot it. You have to shoot it. Sags made shots.
“Teddy made some big plays. I thought when he rebounded it, dribbled it the length of the floor and shot a layup, I thought that was huge for us because we were going the wrong direction at that point in time.”
When Carter came back in, West Virginia continued to attack. After Carter and Miles hit lay-ups, WVU hit five free throws over the final 70 seconds to help seal the win. The final basket came on an outlet pass from Carter to Miles which resulted in dunk for the final margin. The Mountaineers have now hit 58 of 69 free throws (84.1 percent) over three Big 12 games, and finished with four players in double figures, led by Allen’s 20. West and Carter had 17 points while Konate tallied a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
“He’s good,” Huggins said of Carter. “He’s good, and he makes plays that other people can’t make. I think he gets fouls called that aren’t fouls because they’ve never seen anyone make plays the way he makes those plays. He reaches in there and snatches the ball away from them, or knocks it out of their hand. And I’m sure he’s hard to officiate; he’s as good of an on-ball defender as I’ve ever had.”