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WVU Losing Streak hits 4

MORGANTOWN — The WVU Coliseum played host to a live performance of The Tanner Groves Show on Wednesday night.

After sinking a first-half 3-pointer, the Oklahoma forward turned toward the WVU student section with his index finger positioned across his lips as if to shush the crowd — a taunt that drew the ire of the home fans.

But Groves showed he could back up his “talk.” Shooting 9 of 11 from the field, he finished with a team-high 21 points, propelling the Sooners to a 72-62 win over the Mountaineers.

The Mountaineers struggled to stay in stride with the Sooners offensively and, with the result, now see their losing streak sit at four games.

“Usually, it’s either we’re trying to get Sean and Taz a good look, but teams have really been doing a good job of making their life harder,” Jalen Bridges said. “Once it breaks down, we just kind of try to space the floor, attack the rim, kick to an open guy, whatever that may be. Tonight it was a little bit frustrating, but on to the next one.”

A 17-point scoring performance from Gabe Osabuohien, which led the team, highlighted West Virginia’s box score. Despite two other double-digit scorers in Bridges (12 points) and Taz Sherman (11), the Mountaineers struggled to find the bottom of the net with any sort of consistency.

Come the night’s end, West Virginia (13-6, 2-5 Big 12) had shot just shy of 38% from the field, compared to Oklahoma’s 51% success rate. The Mountaineers did shoot 78% from the free-throw line, a stat that paled in comparison to the Sooners’ 21-of-22 (95%.)

“If we ain’t scoring, and they ain’t scoring, it’s gonna be a battle,” Osabuohien said. “But if we ain’t scoring and they score, the outcome ain’t gonna be in our favor.”

Defensively, it wasn’t just Groves giving the Mountaineers fits. Supplementary scoring came by way of guard Umoja Gibson (12 points), as well as forwards Jacob Groves (12) and Jalen Hill (nine).

The Sooners (13-7, 3-5 Big 12), despite turning the ball over twice as many times as the Mountaineers, built a commanding lead in the first half, allowing them to enter halftime in possession of an eight-point lead.

While the turnover problem seemed to be patched come the second half, Oklahoma’s possession of a double-digit lead for more than eight minutes took its toll. Ultimately, West Virginia’s inability to match the Sooners’s offensive success led to the team’s swift demise.

“All I know is, I’m gonna do my best,” Huggins said on trying to right the ship. “I know how important Mountaineer basketball is to the people in the state of West Virginia … I understand how important it is and I understand how much they plan their schedules around it. And I apologize to them.”

West Virginia returns to the court on Saturday, traveling to Arkansas for this season’s installment of the Big 12/SEC challenge. The 2 p.m. tipoff from Bud Walton Arena will be televised on ESPN2.

“It starts with the leaders, the people who have been here,” Bridges said. “Everyday in practice, we gotta bring the defensive intensity, we gotta rebound every ball, we gotta play hard. You can just tell, we’re out there dead in the water. We gotta go back to the drawing board. We’re gonna get it fixed in practice, and we’ll go get one at Arkansas.”

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