Little inside presence and missing big man Oscar Tshiebwe held off a Mountaineer comeback in a 75-71 loss to Oklahoma.
The game started with West Virginia (8-3, 1-2 Big 12) going up 10-6 early, but then Oklahoma (6-2, 2-1 Big 12) went on two small runs giving the Sooners a five-point lead. The Sooners continued scoring in runs and by halftime they held a commanding 18-point lead.
The Mountaineers shot an abysmal 7-of-30 (23%) from the field in the first half, including an eight-minute stretch with no score for WVU in which the Sooners scored 14 points.
In the second half the West Virginia guards began hitting three-pointers, sparking a 20-7 run to pull within five points with just over 11 minutes left in the game. WVU was never able to overcome the first half deficit and failed to ever take the lead.
When the game got close, the teams began trading three-point shots as Oklahoma’s Umoja Gibson made four straight shots from behind the arc to keep the Mountaineers down.
Gibson finished the game with 29 points and eight made three-pointers.
In West Virginia’s first game without Tshiebwe — left team for personal reasons — and Isaiah Cottrell — torn Achilles Tendon against Northeastern — the Mountaineers were outrebounded 41-36. The only other time this year that the team has been outrebounded was against Kansas, as the Jayhawks brought down three more boards than the Mountaineers.
Jalen Bridges earned his first start of his West Virginia career against Oklahoma as the Mountaineers attempted to play some small ball with the lack of inside game. Bridges led the Mountaineers with 19 points.
In just 21 minutes of action, Taz Sherman nearly led the Mountaineers all on his own in the attempted comeback with 19 second half points. Sherman shot 4-of-6 from three-point range while the team finished 14-of-24 (58%) from behind the arc.
Derek Culver, got into foul trouble early and was only able to muster up two points and six rebounds as the Sooner defense attempted to double-team him every time the ball came to him in the paint.
Next the Mountaineers will travel to Stillwater, Oklahoma, for a matchup with Oklahoma State on Monday. The game is set to tip-off at 9 p.m. and will be nationally televised on ESPN2.