WVU logo.jpg

Oklahoma senior forward Kristian Doolittle scored a game-high 27 points and West Virginia continued to struggle away from Morgantown as the Sooners beat the visiting Mountaineers 69-59 Saturday in Norman, Oklahoma.

WVU (18-5, 6-4 Big 12) battled early with OU (15-8, 5-5), but when the Sooners went on a run late in the first half they never really had to look back.

“The guys that we have depended on all year are not the same dudes,” WVU coach Bob Huggins said. “Not the same people.

“In all honesty, they’re not the same guys. They’re not the guys that were out an hour before practice. Almost every single one of them. We had a guy who didn’t make the bus. That hasn’t happened.”

Doolittle grabbed 12 rebounds to go with his 27 points. He made two 3-pointers and went 7 of 7 at the foul line.

As a team, Oklahoma went 22 of 49 from the floor (45 percent) and made 7 of 15 3-point attempts. West Virginia, meanwhile, put on one of its worst shooting performances of the season.

The Mountaineers attempted 76 shots Saturday and made just 24 of those. WVU officially went 11 of 31 on layups against OU.

Huggins was not happy with what he saw from West Virginia in a Wednesday win against Iowa State, and said he was not surprised by how easily Oklahoma handled the Mountaineers on Saturday. The loss drops WVU to 1-13 on the road in Big 12 play the last two seasons, with the one win coming early last month at Oklahoma State.

“[We had] 22 misses within 2 feet of the basket,” Huggins said. “What other explanation is there? It started at Iowa State fellas.

“I saw it coming. We took 76 shots. We had one of our guards take three shots — two of them didn’t hit anything and one of them hit the backboard before it hit the rim. How do you explain that?”

Senior Jermaine Haley led West Virginia with 15 points while freshman forward Oscar Tshiebwe scored 13 and grabbed nine rebounds. Sophomore forward Derek Culver had perhaps his worst game of the season, finishing with four points on a 2-of-10 shooting performance. WVU attempted a season-low eight foul shots in the game, making five.

WVU returns to Morgantown to take on No. 3 Kansas at 7 p.m. Wednesday with the game being broadcast exclusively on the ESPN+ streaming platform.

WVU 76, IOWA STATE 61: On the surface, Wednesday’s game appeared to be a step in the right direction for the West Virginia University men’s basketball team.

The No. 13 Mountaineers shot the ball pretty well from the field — which has been a problem area for the team this season — while never allowing visiting Iowa State to lead in a 76-61 win at the WVU Coliseum. Don’t tell that to veteran West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, however, because he’s not buying it.

“Honestly, I’m having a hard time finding anything really positive to come out of this other than we won,” Huggins said.

The Mountaineers (18-4, 6-3 Big 12) made 29 of 58 shot attempts from the field against the Cyclones, including a 6-of-22 mark from 3-point range, while hitting just half of its foul shots in a 12-of-24 performance at the line.

Huggins was clearly not happy and not willing to accept any praise for his team’s shooting performance.

“We shot 50 percent from the free-throw line,” Huggins said. “We missed the front ends of one-and-ones. We didn’t rebound the ball — that’s effort. We didn’t handle the ball. We had 19 turnovers. We were headed in a direction that I thought was going to make us a pretty darn good team, and then we come out today and turn it over 19 times. It’s ridiculous.

“Those are the telltale signs that you go back and look at when guys play bad — they don’t make free throws. We missed how many point-blank shots? This group is normally really pulling for each other and enthusiastic. [There was] no emotion today.”

West Virginia mostly did what it pleased Wednesday against the reeling Cyclones (9-13, 2-7 Big 12), but it was plain to see the Mountaineers were sloppy at times with a big lead.

Iowa State sophomore guard Tyrese Haliburton has been among the Big 12’s best players this season, but did not have his best game Wednesday in Morgantown. WVU senior Jermaine Haley drew the assignment of guarding Haliburton most of the evening, and performed well in holding the standout sophomore below his season averages.

Haley, listed at 6-foot-7, is West Virginia’s tallest guard and was able to use his size and length to bother Haliburton in the Coliseum.

“Jermaine was fine,” Huggins said. “We wanted to put some size on [Haliburton]. I thought Jermaine did a pretty good job, actually.”

Haley finished with 11 points to go with five assists and seven rebounds — four of them on the offensive end. Huggins said it was perhaps the senior’s best game in a West Virginia uniform. Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said he was impressed with Haley’s defense on Haliburton but it was his contributions on offense that stood out.

“When we were patient, when we attacked, I thought we got some good things,” Prohm said. “Haley’s got good length, but I thought offensively I was more impressed with him because I thought he made some really big efforts to go to the glass and get some second-chance points.”

The Mountaineers led 41-27 at halftime and were able to hold off the Cyclones as they tried to cut into that lead early in the second half. Prohm said his team was able to weather some storms, but could never break through against WVU’s stout defense.

“Started off the second half well,” Prohm said. “Got it to 13 and kept it close, and they hit us with a little run and that was kind of the game. [It] kind of stayed that way the rest of the game. The physicality, obviously 15 feet and in, was probably the biggest difference in the game.”

West Virginia used its size advantage to dominate the glass against ISU, out-rebounding the Cyclones 46-28. Freshman Oscar Tshiebwe was WVU’s leading scorer with 16 points while also grabbing a game-high 10 rebounds in the win. Seven different WVU players had at least three rebounds against the Cyclones.

“You give up 20 offensive rebounds and you shoot 60 percent from the field,” Prohm said. “I mean there is no question the physicality was a huge difference in the game.”

In addition to Haley and Tshiebwe, three other Mountaineers hit double-digits in scoring with senior guard Chase Harler finishing with 14 points while sophomore Derek Culver and Emmitt Matthews each had 12.

Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. Follow him on Twitter at @PAdkinsBanner or email him at padkins@hdmediallc.com