WVU blows 12-point lead, falls to Oklahoma 67-57 in Big 12 opener
Published: Saturday, January 5, 2013
Updated: Saturday, January 5, 2013 19:01
For the second time in less than a month, the West Virginia men’s basketball team saw a double-digit second half lead slowly slip from within their grasp, as the Mountaineers (7-6, 0-1 Big 12 Conference) fell to Oklahoma 67-57 in their inaugural Big 12 game.
“They just wanted to win more than we did,” said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins.
“I just told them in the locker room, ‘What are we going to do?’ I don’t know what we’re going to do. Now we’ve got two days to get ready for teams when we had a week before. And they can’t remember if you tell them for a week, what are we going to do in two days?”
West Virginia led the Sooners by 12 points a few minutes into the second half, but – led by 14 second-half points by forward Romero Osby – Oklahoma ended the game on a 36-14 run to close out another disappointing loss for the Mountaineers.
The loss comes close to a month after the Mountaineers lost a 15-point lead in the second half to Duquesne on the road.
“We’re not really a good second half team, and Huggs told us (at halftime) that we needed to come out in the second half and play harder than we did in the first half,” said freshman Terry Henderson. “We came out the first couple minutes and played hard, but then just collapsed.”
Henderson provided a spark for West Virginia in the first half, making five of his seven attempts from beyond the arc in the game’s first 20 minutes and heading into halftime with 18 points as WVU held a six-point lead.
But in the game’s final minutes, the Mountaineers couldn’t find ways to score. They made just one shot from the field in the last eight minutes of the game, shooting 24 percent in the second half.
Even Henderson, who couldn’t seem to miss a shot in the first half, went cold, as the Raleigh, N.C., native went just 1-for-5 to close out the game.
“It’s frustrating because I’m a winner,” Henderson said. “I’ll do whatever it takes to win. I really wanted to win that game.
“It was our first Big 12 game, home opener in conference play, packed crowd. What more do you ask for?”
Oklahoma took advantage of its opportunities under the basket, capitalizing on its seven offensive rebounds to help score nine second-chance points during its comeback down the stretch. The Sooners outscored the Mountaineers 30-10 in the paint.
“Today, we got out-toughed,” Huggins said. “The amazing thing to me is that they act like that’s not the case. I don’t know how a guy can continue to rebound the ball and not think that he is tougher than you are, because that’s what rebounding comes down to. We want to reach for it, and they want to go fetch it.”
Henderson’s 21 points led three Mountaineers in double figures. Sophomore guards Jabarie Hinds and Juwan Staten scored 11 and 10 points, respectively, in the loss. It was the first time Hinds scored more than 10 points since WVU’s win against Marist on Nov. 22 and Staten finished the game with seven assists.
The Mountaineer bench, which had consistently provided much-needed sparks throughout the early portion of the season, struggled Saturday. The reserves made just one of their 19 shot attempts, scoring four points.
“I think it’s our concentration,” Staten said. “Over 40 minutes, we just kind of play in spurts and we go in droughts where we can’t score or where we can’t get a stop.
“It’s starting to become a trend … When we have a lead, we tend to relax in the second half and it’s kind of hard to turn it off and turn it back on. That’s our problem.”