You are looking live at the Maniac Musings, pulled from the thin student section without any resistance because the students aren’t back yet. That said, the Coliseum is sold out this afternoon and this is the guide for the chuckleheads who don’t have class again until Jan. 14.
Today is WVU’s sixth game during winter break. The Mountaineers are 3-2 but have won the past three games. A win would be WVU’s longest winning streak since five in a row Dec. 8-22 last year. That was a five-game tear and that’s the best run since 10 straight into the 2010 Final Four.
Chuck McGill, present for this grand and festive Big 12 opener, asks an interesting question related to the football program’s conference opener.
Think the Mountaineers and Sooners can top the football debut in this league by WVU?
If you’re curious, Baylor and West Virginia combined for 133 points in the 70-63 gridiron thriller at Mountaineer Field on the last Saturday in September. On the hardwood, this 7-5 WVU team is averaging 70.2 points, just better than Oklahoma’s 67.9.
That means WVU and OU have combined for 138.1 points this hoops season.
Over/under 133 for the Mountaineers’ Big 12 basketball debut … what say you?
If you want to get a little more particular for this day, over/under for the 99 points these two combines to score in their football game. Neither team is what you’d call an offensive stalwart.
Creep with me as a crawl through the hood …
And this one sees a 22-point swing in the second half, courtesy of a 36-14 game-ending run. Final: 67-57 and WVU, which had trouble with Oakland, Radford and EKU, loses its first Big 12 game.
Yeah, there’s a dunk by Osby and an eight-point lead. A lot of WU’s problems were on display in this second half — conditioning, scoring, defense, rebounding — but what stands out is the offensive shift in the middle of the second half.
Huggins really tried to get something going inside and it didn’t work and OU got back in the game … but honestly, what else are the Mountaineers going to do? That shooting wasn’t going to last and it started to dry up a little before the switch.
Not much of an offensive identity.
Never fear: WVU wears the crown. Henderson steps out of bounds. Postgame ought to be quite pointed after this one.
Bonehead move by WVU (turnover in the backcourt) erased by bonehead move by OU (botched alley oop).
Strange moment in the Coliseum. The scoreboard shows some motivational video with John Flowers pumping up the state of West Virginia and then hits “Sabotage.” The crowd does nothing and they have to turn down the music.
That was really awkward.
And that’s great offense. Six passes get Pledger the 3 and that … might … do it.
.. and here’s the 1-3-1.
Staten makes his free throws to cut it to 60-57…
Huggins goes bombs away on Murray as he sends him back into the game.
Patience on offense and Hield gets a shot he wants and scores.
Osby goes 2-for-2 and leads by three. Quite a turnaround here. Sooners have a very veteran demeanor and, remember, they’ve been good in close games.
The answer, according to Bob Huggins, is Gary Browne and Nique.
Staten has a very quiet 8-5-7 today. Henderson has been just quiet since the opening moments of this half.
Murray makes a slow, slow walk to the timeout, hands folded atop his head, but he’ll sit now with four fouls. OU has free throws up 56-55 with 3:46 to go.
That one did not, but a transition 3 is rebounded by Hield and he scored for a 56-55 lead. WVU looks like it has some tired parts here.
Wow, Oklahoma takes the most reluctant 3s, but that one rattles around and goed down.
Hinds with another 3. His teammates did a great job in warmups!
Noreen and Murray both look beat. That’s two offensive rebounds on one trip there and neither had much resistance.
Kilicli is out now. Big minutes for Noreen today after playing 11 minutes the previous three games — and none against EKU.
Kilicli is gassed. Grabbed a rebound and couldn’t get off the floor (he was probably fouled, but he’s not getting that call) and then he gets beat down the floor a trip later as his man gets an offensive rebound as Kilicli fouls him.
Staten scores on a, gasp, drive, but WVU’s zone is diced up and OU’s Cameron Clarke dunks over Noreen while being fouled. He has a free throw with 9:14 to go after WVU’s timeout.
The team that was playing so well on dribble drive and on jumpers had decided to go inside to Kilicli and a turnover precedes a game-tying putback by Oklahoma. It’s 46-46.
Oh, lord. Overofficiating. Basket-before-charge call. That’s just an awful rule.
And that’s what drives WVU crazy. Kilicli has a one-footer and can’t put it in and then goes 1-for-2 at the line.
…or not. What was that then?
Officials are going to do something to someone, though. Very deliberate in their discussion during and now after the replay.
Long chat here to discuss an elbow and intent. Not sure on who, though.
From high above the playing floor, after Kilicli finesses a miss in open space: “DUNK THE BALL!” Here come the two free throws …
What strikes me as most unusual about this team is how often it thinks it’s in the clear and then disregards pitfalls. This is another example of that today. Nice lead and then just sloppy decisions and shot selection.
Browne … 0-for-7.
And Osby throws in a jumper against Kilicli.
Harris misses a wide open 3 — and I feel lie I could have typed that often today — and Kilicli has the rebound and a lot of room, but he hurries a hook shot that misses. ITs’ 45-40 and Oklahoma is happy to play in the half-court and isolate.
And here comes Browne…
Hinds misses in transition but Kilicli gets a rebound and scores. OU misses in transition and Kilicli gets the defensive rebound ans is fouled and the crowd is awake again.
WVU is 3-for-8 from the floor in this half. Henderson is on the bench. Where are the points coming from here?
And Oklahoma isolates against Kilicli and Osby scores. Huggins calls a timeout and sarcastically applauds for Kilicli. Five-point game and the offense has found a rut.
And there’s another turnover, once more by Rutledge. That bothers Huggins enough to put Kilicli in.
Well, a turnover on a five seconds call on an inbound after a timeout gives the Sooners the ball. A layup makes it 43-36 and another WVU turnover gives the Sooners a jumper that misses.
This is where WVU gets sloppy.
You’re Lon Kruger and you’ve played three halves against WVU now. Do you make adjustments based on what you just saw or do you play it like the numbers say to — which conspire to suggest the Mountaineers cannot do that again?
The Mountaineers, 2-for-12 from 2-point range and 9-for-19 from 3-point range, lead 35-29 at the half.
Henderson bails out another shaky possession as WVU was running out of time, but penetration drew the defense and Henderson caught one on the baseline and laid it in. First points in the paint!
Huggins then asks for his team to foul in transition with two fouls to give, but Staten puts his arms up as Grooms banks one from about 30 feet that almost went down.
Gary Browne is having a special kind of day. He returns from the bench, dribbled up high and then basically bounces one for OU’s Sam Grooms to scoop up and take the other way for a layup. WVU leads 33-29 and just called a timeout with 35.1 seconds left in the half. Browne is out.
Also, I don’t think Murray is this team’s best shooter … but that’s just me.
And by many measures, Oklahoma is playing well 12-for-25, seven assists, 10-0 edge in paint scoring, seven points off seven turnovers.
I haven’t watched WVU in person since the Michigan game — and on TV or on a replay is far different. Whatever it is they’re doing on offense, whether it’s of late or just today, the Mountaineers seem to enjoy this more.
It’s very much like a video game. Drive inside, draw the defense and pass it. Find the hot hand and pass it. Shoot the open 3s. So on and so forth.
Henderson with back-to-back 3s and WVU leads 30-27 and Kruger lets his team play. Murray fouls and we go to a timeout.
Kilicli gets his first touch and throws it away in a panic. WVU is fortunate OU kicked the transition chance. And Kilicli sits, again having given WVU nothing.
WVU already with six 3s. Season high is 10 against Virginia Tech .. that Hinds game. No coincidences!
Henderson’s third 3 bails out a bad possession against a bad zone and puts WU ahead 24-23.
So no points in the paint, where the Sooners have a 10-0 edge.
WVU is 1-for-9 from 2-point range and the make is a Staten jumper from the extended elbow.
Sooners aren’t a great half-court team, but they’re better than WVU … thought WVU is making 3s. Hinds (!) makes one and that’s 5-for-12. Hinds hadn’t hit a 3 since Dec. 8.
Nique proves what he can’t do — triple threat, dribble, stolen, Sooners dunk and it’s 19-14. No. 19-17 as Terry Henderson makes his second straight 3.
And Browne is 0-for-6 and gets a seat on the bench. He’s shooting early, too.
Oklahoma up 6-0 in points in the paint.
He’s going to keep shooting, too. A miss on a tough runner has him 0-for-5. His teammates are 3-for-7.
WVU is getting open looks. Trouble is a few have gone to Gary Browne, who is shooting 20.7 percent from 3 and it 0-for-2 today … plus a long missed 2.
Aaric Murray has eight points. Everybody else has 14 in an 11-11 game. Kilicli sits with six minutes and no other stats.
Murray has a camp site in the right corner. He’s the outlet for the dribble drive … until he cuts in and watches a driver pass it out of bounds to where Murray was standing a moment earlier.
So far, Sooners are just a tick faster to rebounds and loose balls, but good thing WVU’s center can shoot — he’s 2-for-2 from 3 and the Mountaineers trail 8-7 at the under-16 timeout.
So far, more of the spacing on offense with the bigs up high and away from the basket.
Henderson cuts slowly and bobbled a pass out of bounds for a second turnover and OU scores on the other end for a 4-3 lead. WVU’s score was a Murray 3 that rolled and fell.
Sooners miss, but get a team rebound. Hinds fouls beyond the 3-point line.
WVU wins the tip and the Staten forces a lazy lob pass to Murray 30 feet from the basket and its turned over to the Sooners.
“Jump Around” before the tip and it fails badly. This is not a sellout. Plenty op open seats.
Goodness. Not having a good run here. Oklahoma decides to start Hornbeak over Fitzgerald. The lineup on out scorebook says different.
Also, apologies for misfiring on Red Panda earlier. Hertz confused me. And I didn’t comprehend things nearly as well as I should have because, you know, Red Panda.
And Noreen has joined them. Kilicli has his forearm up against Murray’s chest and is gesturing to make some sort of a point. Murray is nodding his head. He pats Kilicli on the head and the meeting is over.
That was interesting.
WVU is doing its layup line but Kilicli and Murray are not. They’re talking — actually, it’s Deniz — near mid-court and going over something that involves positioning and maneuvering in the post.
WVU, on the other hand, is bigger and is capable of playing physical. So adding size helps. Oklahoma has been outscored in the paint six times this season and has tied once in 12 games. In the three losses, the Sooners were outscored inside twice by a combined 32 points.
In November’s win against WVU, Oklahoma had a 32-20 scoring edge in the paint. Circle it!
Why the switch? Well, Oklahoma is not very big. Or physical.
“We’re not a physical group, by nature, so we’ve got to manufacture a little more with that,” Coach Lon Kruger said. “It’s a physical game. Individually, we’ve got probably more personalities of finesse people. We’re not a big, strapping team, just from a physical appearance.
“We’re going to play against some big, strong people and we’ve got to be more physical to hold our own on the boards, get loose balls, set screens. I think all teams would like to be a little more physical. Certainly we need to be.”
Hornbreak had started every game this season and leads the team in assists and steals.
The Sooners are mixing it up a little bit. They have been starting three guards, but will swap one for a forward today. Amath M’Baye (9.8 ppg, 6 rpg), Romery Osby (12.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Andrew Fitzgerald (6.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg) will be in the front court and Steven Pledger (11.5, 3.0 rpg) and Buddy Hield (8.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg) will be in the backcourt.
Fitzgerald is starting for Je’lon Hornbreak (6.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2 apg).
Starting five: Staten, Hinds, Henderson, Kilicli and Murray.
Huggins in a suit jacket!
I’m watching him closely here in warmups. He’s shooting it fine. Making some, missing some, but not lighting it up or tanking it. What stands out to me is the volume of teammates or managers or assistants who have tapped on on the shoulder, patted him on the backside or said something in his ear.
They’re really trying to get him going.
One thing we haven’t mentioned much is the depth of the slump Jabarie Hinds is stuck in this season.
Your officials: the busy Gerry Pollard (fourth game of the NEW YEAR … http://statsheet.com/mcb/referees/gerry-pollard/schedule), the understated Rick Randall (two technical fouls, party to “only” 34.9 fouls per game … http://statsheet.com/mcb/referees/rick-randall) and cool Darron George (well-liked and not as fiery as he was last year … http://statsheet.com/mcb/referees/darron-george).
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