Oklahoma-West Virginia Preview
West Virginia prevented Buddy Hield from unleashing one of his customary shooting barrages in January and nearly emerged with a victory in the first meeting with Oklahoma.
Hield then lit up the Mountaineers the following month in a much more comfortable win for the sixth-ranked Sooners, who handled West Virginia's customary pressure with ease.
After Hield's near-record performance to open the Big 12 tournament, the national player of the year candidate hopes to again give the ninth-ranked Mountaineers fits in Friday night's semifinals.
Hield's 17 points in Oklahoma's 70-68 win over West Virginia (25-7) on Jan. 16 ties for his third-fewest of the season after he was held to 11 field-goal attempts - his second-fewest of the campaign.
The Sooners (25-6) shot a season low-tying 33.3 percent in that contest, committed 18 turnovers against the Mountaineers' hounding defense and needed Khadeem Lattin's tip-in with one second remaining to pull out the victory.
They didn't have as much trouble Feb. 20, finishing with nine giveaways - the third-fewest for a West Virginia opponent this season - while Hield scored 29 points on 9-of-21 shooting, including 5 of 11 from 3-point range.
Beating the Mountaineers again would move the Sooners a win away from their first conference tournament title since capping a run of three straight in 2003.
They can thank Hield for helping them advance Thursday. The Wooden Award finalist went 14 of 21 from the floor and scored 39 points in a 79-76 win over No. 21 Iowa State, joining Kansas State's Michael Beasley and Texas' Kevin Durant as the only Big 12 players to have at least 10 30-point games in a season.
Hield came close to matching the tournament scoring record set by Texas Tech's Mike Singletary, who scored 43 in 2009. Ryan Spangler and Isaiah Cousins added 10 points apiece in Oklahoma's third straight win.
"It was a game that could have gone either way," coach Lon Kruger said. "We got a little bit of a margin in the second half. Proud of our guys for finishing it out."
Second-seeded West Virginia hadn't won a game in its previous two appearance in the Big 12 tournament before Thursday's 86-66 quarterfinal rout of TCU. Devin Williams finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds, while Jevon Carter added 15 points.
"I guess that's somewhat of an accomplishment, but we're here to win a championship," Williams said. "All we can do is use this to move forward, clean up what we did (Thursday) and just move forward."
The Mountaineers shot 55.6 percent from the field and went 11 of 24 from deep for their second-most 3s of the season. They've won five straight since losing to the Sooners last month, when they shot just 33.3 percent overall.
Coach Bob Huggins is hoping his squad can pull out a couple more wins in Kansas City before heading into the NCAA Tournament.
"I told them before the season started to get together (and) write down what their goals were," Huggins said. "One of their goals was to win the (regular-season) championship, which we fell short. Then they wanted to win the tournament championship, go to the NCAAs and continue to advance there."
Oklahoma is shooting 42.3 percent from 3-point range to rank among the nation's leaders, but it hit a season low-tying four 3s on 21 attempts Thursday. The Mountaineers have held the Sooners to 29.4 percent from deep over their meetings this season.