WVU – Oklahoma Match-up Lacks Usual Luster
MORGANTOWN, W.Va — It’s Oklahoma against West Virginia on the Coliseum floor at noon Saturday, but somehow it isn’t like it usually is.
What was it, two months ago when the football teams met with a chance the prize being the Big 12 Championship game? It was a thriller, too, with the Sooners surviving, 59-56, in a game that probably clinched the Heisman Trophy for their quarterback, Kyler Murray.
And then a year ago, when the basketball teams met at this same site, it was the Big 12’s best defensive player, Jevon Carter, going up against the conference’s freshman offensive sensation, Trae Young, and getting the better of him as the Mountaineers prevailed, 89-76.
Carter had 17 points and 10 assists and dogged Young into eight turnovers and held him to just 3 for 12 shooting from 3-point range.
There is nothing resembling the Murray vs. Will Grier or Carter vs. Young matchups in this one as the two teams come in struggling badly. WVU’s troubles have been well documented in these parts, going 9-12 on the year and standing last in the Big 12 at 1-7. While Oklahoma’s overall record of 15-6 gives them a chance at the NCAA Tournament, their 3-5 Big 12 mark leaves them out of the picture in the championship chase.
Even the presence of the legendary Jerry West and the three other surviving members of the 1958-59 WVU team that went to the National Finals and lost by a point to California can not make this game anything more than it is, although there’s little doubt Bob Huggins would let West suit up in his old No 44 jersey and come out and play for his team if he could.
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WVU happily says goodbye to January, a month in which it won just one game.
It’s hoping that is not the only change.
The Mountaineers need a change of luck.
They go into the game without Sagaba Konate, the shot-blocking phenom who has had trouble coming back from off-season knee surgery. Konate has played in only eight games and since he has been out WVU is 3-10.
What’s more, the Mountaineers’ top scoring threat, Beetle Bolden is also expected to miss this game and who knows how many more with a high ankle sprain.
“We’re not the same team without Sags and Beetle,” Huggins said. “I’m not making excuses. We can’t do the same things we did before because Sags is not back there in the defense to fix it. He’s not there to block shots or change them.”
Bolden continues to try and remain sharp despite the injury.
|WVU (9-12/1-7) vs. Oklahoma (15-6 / 3-5)||Date: Sat Feb 2|
|Time: 12:00 PM ET||Venue: WVU Coliseum|
|Loc: Morgantown, WV||Series: OU 9-7|
|NET: WVU – 102 OU – 34||TV: ESPN2|
|Last: WVU 75-73 (2018)||Twitter: @BlueGoldNews|
|Facebook: BlueGoldNews||Web: BlueGoldNews.com|
“Beetle was shooting on one foot at practice,” Huggins revealed. “You’ve got to love him. He’s got a plastic cast on the ankle and is standing on one foot shooting shots.”
With Bolden out, Huggins is expected to give Jordan McCabe another start and an extended run at point guard because he has shown an ability to protect the ball. His shooting, though, has been troublesome and has made only two two-point shots all season.
Oklahoma comes in off a disaster on its home floor against Baylor, being beaten 77-47. That was the Sooners’ worst home defeat since 1963.
“They had their way on both ends of the floor,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “We didn’t do what we have to do to fight that off. We were way too tentative to match their physicality.
“We’ve been inconsistent with results, certainly in Big 12 play,” he added.
West Virginia’s problem has been just the opposite. It has been consistently bad in Big 12 play, with its only victory a stunning home upset of a Kansas team that is dealing with its own injury situation and not the team it should have been this season.
Lamont West comes into the game for the Mountaineers off a 24-point effort at Iowa State and Esa Ahmad heads into the stretch of his senior season as a 1,000-point career scorer, having gone past that mark against Iowa State on Wednesday.
Emmitt Matthews Jr., a freshman guard, blossomed in the Iowa cold with a career high 11 points and will get another long, hard look.