West Virginia survives Young's 32 points to beat Oklahoma
By CLIFF BRUNT, AP Sports Writer
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Finally, West Virginia looked like a Bob Huggins-coached team.
Lamont West scored 17 points, and the 19th-ranked Mountaineers survived a 32-point night from Oklahoma’s Trae Young to escape with a 75-73 win over the 17th-ranked Sooners on Monday night.
The Mountaineers had lost five of seven, but they found their groove by playing the solid defense they have become known for against an Oklahoma team that had averaged 97.5 points per game at home.
“That’s how we have played all year until we got into that stretch where, for whatever reason, we quit taking chances, we quit trying to make things happen with our defense,” Huggins said. “We have got to make things happen with our defense to be successful.”
Esa Ahmad and Sagaba Konate each scored 14 and Jevon Carter added 10 points, eight assists and six steals for the Mountaineers (18-6, 7-4 Big 12), who swept the regular-season series and moved within a half-game of conference co-leaders Kansas and Texas Tech.
Young, the freshman who leads the nation in scoring and assists, had just one assist as the Mountaineers chose to focus on slowing his teammates.
Huggins said Carter had something to do with it, too.
“The guy that guarded him is pretty good,” Huggins said. “He’s not going to play against anybody better than the guy who guarded him today.”
Young said he was ill, but he still played 36 minutes.
“You’ve got to play through it,” he said. “I wasn’t feeling very good, but I mean, I’m not going to make any excuses. It’s the nature of basketball. I have to go out there and compete and give it my all.”
Brady Manek scored 12 points and Khadeem Lattin had 13 rebounds and four blocks for the Sooners (16-7, 6-5).
Rashard Odomes made a layup to cut West Virginia’s lead to 74-73 with 24.3 seconds to play. After Ahmad made one of two free throws with 13 seconds remaining, Young rushed up the court but lost control of the ball briefly, making it more difficult for the Sooners to get a good shot off. Odomes missed under duress in close in the final seconds.
The Sooners had a timeout before the final sequence but chose not to use it.
“We had the open court for Trae,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “I liked what we had. We had the timeout ready to call if we needed it but we talked about before the free throws that if Trae had the open court we wouldn’t call it, and he had a good look, good open court.”
Carter sliced through Oklahoma’s defense for a layup at the first-half buzzer to give West Virginia a 50-40 lead. The Mountaineers shot 57 percent from the field and made 8 of 13 3-pointers before the break. Young scored 17 points in the first half and had just one turnover, but the Sooners couldn’t stop the Mountaineers.
Oklahoma held the Mountaineers scoreless for more than five minutes to start the second half and closed the deficit to 50-45. West Virginia got it going again, and a dunk by Konate put the Mountaineers up by 11.
Young hit two 3-pointers to help the Sooners cut West Virginia’s lead to 63-57 midway through the second half. He made a layup that nearly hit the top of the backboard before dropping in to get the Sooners within 66-63, and the game was close the rest of the way.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers got the big win they needed to move back into the conference title hunt.
Oklahoma: It was Oklahoma’s first home loss of the season and a critical one given that the Sooners have just one road win in league play.
Young’s one assist was a season low. His previous low was five. He had one turnover in the first half but five in the second.
Both teams shot better than 50 percent in the first half but struggled after the break. West Virginia shot 26.5 percent overall and made 1 of 12 3-pointers in the second half. Oklahoma shot 38.7 percent after halftime.
Young, on West Virginia’s style of defense: “I mean, I think that’s just how they play. They like to rough up the game, not make the game easy. They just try to play physical. I don’t think anybody else in the country plays like how they play.”
West Virginia hosts Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Oklahoma plays at Iowa State on Saturday.
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