Hield leads No. 21 Oklahoma past No. 15 West Virginia
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) As West Virginia coach Bob Huggins was asked how his team's vaunted press performed against Oklahoma, he muttered ''What press?'' into the microphone before the question was completed.
The 21st-ranked Sooners handled it well and defeated No. 15 West Virginia 71-52 on Tuesday night.
Oklahoma committed 22 turnovers in the first meeting, an 86-65 win for the Mountaineers on Jan. 13. This time, the Sooners committed just 13 and often scored after breaking down West Virginia's defense.
''The guys did a good job of trusting each other and moving to be available for each other, playing the traps a little bit stronger,'' Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. ''When you play against a really good press like that, you've really got to lean on each other.''
The Sooners focused on making smart plays once they got past the first wave.
''That's what they like to do - they like to speed you up,'' Oklahoma guard Jordan Woodard said. ''That's how their defense works, so we just had to have a clock in our heads and make sure that we're staying calm and getting the shots that we want.''
Buddy Hield scored 21 points. The Big 12's leading scorer made 8 of 13 shots, including 5 of 7 3-pointers. Woodard had 12 points and Ryan Spangler and Isaiah Cousins each added 10 for the Sooners (15-7, 6-4 Big 12). Oklahoma shot a season-high 61 percent from the field to win its third straight.
Juwan Staten had 15 points and nine rebounds and Gary Browne added 12 points for West Virginia (18-4, 6-3), which had won three straight.
Devin Williams, the conference's No. 2 rebounder in Big 12 play and the league leader in field goal percentage, was ill and did not play. He had 14 points and 11 rebounds in the first meeting. Huggins said he expected more out of Williams' replacements.
''Obviously, he's been back there more than everybody else. He's our most experienced guy, but the truth of the matter is, Brandon and Elijah are both better shot-blockers. Brandon (Watkins) and Elijah (Macon) get the same amount of reps in practice that he (Williams) gets.''
Oklahoma led 14-11 before going on a 13-0 run to break open the game. West Virginia went scoreless for 5:33 during that stretch.
The Sooners led 38-24 at halftime after shooting 62 percent.
West Virginia turned the tide early in the second half as its full-court press started to bother the Sooners. The Mountaineers went on an 8-0 run to cut Oklahoma's lead to 43-35.
Hield's 3-pointer gave the Sooners a 52-40 edge with just under 10 minutes remaining, and he hit another 3 with just over eight minutes to play that pushed the lead back to 14 points. The Sooners remained in control from there.
''At the time when they were trying to cut it under 10, our guys came up with some good stops and boards and pushed it back out there midway through the second half,'' Kruger said.
West Virginia: Macon made his first career start in Williams' place and scored eight points in 16 minutes. ... West Virginia made just 2 of 13 3-pointers in the first half and 5 of 26 in the game. ... The Mountaineers, who entered the night as the nation's leader in steals per game (12.4) finished with seven.
Oklahoma: Spangler was chosen Big 12 Player of the Week for his efforts last week. ... This was Oklahoma's nation-leading 10th game against a Top 25 team this year. ... Oklahoma made just 11 of 22 free throws.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
Huggins, on his team breaking down after closing the gap in the second half: ''The thing about playing the way we play, everybody has to know what the other guy is doing. When the other guy makes a bonehead play, you know, for instance, if your back guy is supposed to guard the basket and he runs past the ball at half-court - with no chance to get it, by the way - that's a bad play. We were back in the game at that point in time. We weren't as disciplined in doing the things that we've been taught to do. There are absolutes that have to happen and we didn't do those.''
Oklahoma outscored West Virginia 27-8 in points off turnovers and had 20 fast break points to six for West Virginia.
West Virginia: Hosts Baylor on Saturday.
Oklahoma: At TCU on Saturday.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP .