It was a tale of two halves for the West Virginia University men’s basketball team on Saturday at Oklahoma.
No. 9 WVU struggled to hit shots in the opening 20 minutes and trailed by 18 at the break. The Mountaineers rallied to tie the game multiple times in the second half, but could not get past the Sooners in a 75-71 loss at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
The Mountaineers (8-3, 1-2 Big 12) looked lost in their first half of play since announcing the departure of preseason All-Big 12 pick Oscar Tshiebwe from the program. After scoring 10 points in the first three minutes, West Virginia made just three more shots from the field the rest of the half. WVU scored just 20 points and shot 7 of 30 (23.3 percent) from the floor.
WVU did get a good start to the game from freshman Jalen Bridges, a Fairmont native who made three 3-pointers and scored 11 points in the first half of his first collegiate start. West Virginia, however, went into halftime trailing 38-20 as the Sooners were both out-shooting and out-rebounding the Mountaineers.
WVU flipped the script in the second half, scoring the first nine points and opening the half on a 2 to 7 run. With 10:11 left to play, senior guard Taz Sherman hit a three-pointer to cap off a 9 to nothing WVU run that tied the game at 49.
Sherman exploded in the second half, scoring all 20 of his points after halftime. After missing all five of his shots in the first half, Sherman shot 7 of 11 with five threes in the second to lead the Mountaineers.
On the other side, OU’s Umoja Gibson scored a game-high 29 points with eight 3-pointers. West Virginia continued to score late in the second half, but Oklahoma was able to do just enough to maintain its slim lead and pull out the upset, 75-71.
No. 9 West Virginia drops to 8-3 on the season while Oklahoma improves to 6-2 overall and 2-1 in the Big 12.
Sherman finished with 20 points to lead the team, all in the second half. Bridges finished with 16 in his first career start while Miles ‘Deuce’ McBride (15) and Emmitt Matthews Jr. (11) also scored in double figures.
West Virginia was able to minimize the impact of the Sooners’ two best scorers, Austin Reaves (13 points) and Brady Manek (seven), but Gibson’s 29 led the team to victory.
WVU will stay in the Sooner State for a few more days, taking on Oklahoma State on Monday. The Mountaineers and Cowboys will tip at 9 p.m. in Stillwater with the game slated for broadcast on ESPN2.