The No. 14 West Virginia Mountaineers were in a heavyweight bout with the No. 12 Oklahoma Sooners that took two overtimes before Oklahoma earned the victory 91-90.
West Virginia was trending in the wrong direction with 5:40 remaining in the second half before junior guard Sean McNeil led the Mountaineers back. McNeil hit three straight three-point jumpers over a span of two minutes to erase the nine-point Oklahoma lead.
WVU had opportunities at the end of regulation and in both overtime periods but was unable to convert critical shots down the stretch. Head coach Bob Huggins blamed a lack of concentration for the miscues during the game.
“When you fumble balls, that’s concentration,” Huggins said. “We had to fumble 20 balls. I said on the radio, we can’t say that we’re reading our press clippings because we don’t have a paper in this town. We have to play with an edge, and we didn’t.”
Overall, the Mountaineers shot poorly from three-point range and the free throw line. West Virginia finished the game 7-of-24 (29%) from behind the arc and a woeful 11-of-21 (52%) from the free throw line.
“I’ve always found that when you’re a pretty good free throw shooting team, which we have been, and you go 11-for-21 form the free throw line, a lot of that is concentration,” Huggins said. “We didn’t have that today.”
Despite the loss, there were multiple performances for West Virginia to look at positively. Junior forward Derek Culver finished with a career-high 29 points to go along with 14 rebounds for another double-double on the season.
McNeil was the second-leading scorer for WVU with his 21 points as he shot 5-of-10 from behind the arc. This comes after his career-high performance against Texas Tech on Tuesday in which he scored 26 points. Jalen Bridges also had a strong performance with eight points and 11 rebounds as he played all but two minutes in the game.
Huggins was not happy with the practices throughout the week that the Mountaineers had and blamed it on fatigue following the trip to Lubbock, Texas, to face Texas Tech.
“Our concentration was not very good after the Texas Tech game, but guys, we get back at 4:30 in the morning,” Huggins said. “We can’t practice the next day. We come in, and they’re still tired. It’s a combination of a lot of things. I think it’s a combination of not getting any sleep and part of it is that they were fooling themselves after beating a couple of ranked teams.”
West Virginia will face Texas next on Feb. 20 in Austin, Texas. Tipoff is at 3 p.m. on ABC.