Sooners defeat West Virginia
BY Staff reports
Sunday, November 25, 2012
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Oklahoma drew first blood on new conference opponent West Virginia Sunday, beating the Mountaineers 77-70 in the third-place game at the Old Spice Classic.
Amath M’Baye led the way with 19 points as OU improved to 2-1 at the tournament and 4-1 overall. Juwan Staten led the 1-4 Mountaineers with 15 points.
The Sooners used a pair of 9-0 runs in the first half to take a 34-22 lead. They protected a 42-37 advantage heading into the break, only to have West Virginia crawl all the way back into a 62-62 tie with five minutes remaining.
Then came the most important spurt of the game.
Freshman guard Buddy Hield scored in transition. M’Baye claimed a defensive rebound, went down and made two free throws to push OU ahead 66-62 with 4:50 to play.
M’Baye blocked a shot on West Virginia’s next possession, and that led to Je’lon Hornbeak’s 3-pointer out of the corner.
The Mountaineers never got closer than five points down from there.
“A lot of guys made good plays,” OU coach Lon Kruger said during his postgame radio interview. “We’ll grow a lot from this. We were a lot more physical, understanding how we need to play. West Virginia is a very physical ballclub and our big guys really battled in the post all day long.”
That meant contending with Denis Kilicli, the Mountaieers’ 6-9, 260-pound center. Kilicli scored 13 points, but OU made him work.
The Sooners attacked West Virginia’s bigger but slower frontcourt at the other end, mostly with M’Baye. The preseason Big 12 newcomer of the year made five of his six shots and asserted himself from the opening tip.
Hornbeak, another of OU’s freshman guards, played his most aggressive game of the season as well and wound up with 14 points and five rebounds.