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WVU HOOPS: Another Test For No. 14 West Virginia

West Virginia's Miles McBride (4) controls the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Justin Rex)

MORGANTOWN — It doesn’t get any easier for the West Virginia men’s basketball team. The No. 14-ranked Mountaineers will play their third consecutive game against a ranked opponent as they host No. 12 Oklahoma. Tipoff is slated for 1 p.m. at the WVU Coliseum with the game being broadcasted on ESPN+.

West Virginia (14-5, 7-3 Big 12) is on a three-game winning streak and won five of its past six games. Even more impressive, the Mountaineers’ last two wins came at the hands of No. 23 Kansas (91-79) and No. 7 Iowa State (82-71).

They look to avenge their loss to the Sooners who took the first matchup of the season on Jan. 2, 75-71.

The Mountaineers faced an 18-point deficit at halftime, but were staged a rally that fell just short.

West Virginia, thanks to shooting 56.67% from the floor in the second half was able to tie the game on multiple occasions, but could never garner a lead.

“They run great offense,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said.

“I think (Oklahoma coach) Lon (Kruger) is a master at getting people isolated and getting the matchups that he wants. They’re so good at it.”

In their first matchup, Umoja Gibson hit eight 3-pointers for Oklahoma (12-5, 7-4 Big 12) en route to 29 points and going 8 of 11 from behind the arc. He is currently fourth on the team in scoring averaging around 10 points per game (9.9). He leads the Sooners in made 3-pointers (39) and 3-point field goal percentage (44.3).

Austin Reaves leads the Sooners with 15.8 points per outing while De’Vion Harmon has netted 12.5. Brady Manek rounds out the double-figure scorers with an average of 10.9 points per game.

“Gibson was the one that stepped up against us. He is without a question their best shooter,” Huggins said. “Lon has the luxury of pitting a lot of guys out there that can shoot the ball. They’re got guys that can make shots. We’ve got to do a great job of guarding our guy and don’t worry about the rest of them. Just guard the guy we’re supposed to guard.”

For West Virginia, Deuce McBride leads the way averaging 16.2 points per game while Derek Culver has contributed 14.3 points per night. Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil also are averaging over 10 points per game for the Mountaineers with 13.1 and 11.1, respectively.

Some major implications are on the line for both teams in terms of the Big 12 standings as West Virginia is second in the conference and Oklahoma is third. The Sooners are a half a game back of the Mountaineers. No. 2 Baylor leads the Big 12 by 2.5 games.

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