Oklahoma defeated No. 13 West Virginia, 69-59, on Saturday, securing a much-needed Top-25 win for their NCAA Tournament resume.
The Mountaineers are one of the top defensive teams in the country this season, specifically when it comes to perimeter defense and rebounding. With the Sooners coming into the game with inconsistencies in both areas, the win was a testament to the team’s potential.
Here are three takeaways for the Sooners' win over West Virginia.
Kristian Doolittle's big game
Oklahoma got a huge boost from the scoring ability of senior forward Kristian Doolittle. The Edmond-native came into the game riding a five-game streak of scoring less than 10 points. Doolittle was able to achieve that and more by the halftime buzzer. Doolittle scored 14 of his 27 points in the first half on 4-7 shooting while being 2-3 from behind the arc.
The lone senior on Kruger’s squad nearly scored half of the Sooners first half points.
In the second half, Doolittle continued to pour it on the West Virginia defense and finished with 10 rebounds, securing his sixth double-double of the season. As the Mountaineer defense began focusing on Doolittle, other Sooners began to find open looks.
Junior forward Brady Manek finished with 11 points on 4-14 shooting and was 3-8 from behind the arc.
The Mountaineers came into the game ranked No. 4 in the country in rebounding margin. Oklahoma was able to limit West Virginia’s rebounding in the first half and were only out-rebounded 19-18 heading into the break.
The Sooners still allowed eight offensive rebounds in the first half, which the Mountaineers turned into 11 second chance points. Meanwhile the Sooners were limited to just three offensive rebounds in the first half which they turned into four second chance points.
The Sooners also struggled in protecting the paint defensively. West Virginia outscored Oklahoma 18-4 in the paint in the first half. The Sooners did a good job of avoiding costly fouls when the Mountaineers attacked the paint, allowing just four trips to the free throw line in the first half while converting on eight of their nine attempts at the line.
The Sooners finished the game out-rebounding West Virginia 42-41, but were out-rebounded on the offensive glass 21-9.
Doolittle led the Sooners in rebounds with 10, including four on the offensive end. Sophomore guard Jamal Bieniemy was fairly quiet on the offensive end, scoring seven points on 3-6 shooting but was able to make his presence felt on the glass with six rebounds.
Defense has been West Virginia’s calling card for many years and this season is no different. The Mountaineers have one of the top perimeter defenses in the country this season, ranked No. 3 in the country in defensive 3-point shooting percentage at 36 percent.
On Saturday, the Sooners were able to break the Mountaineers pressure defense with ball movement and a strong 3-point shooting performance. Oklahoma went into the break shooting 45 percent from behind the arc on its 11 attempts.
Oklahoma continued to knock down 3-pointers at a high rate in the second half. The Sooners finished the game shooting 44 percent from behind the arc while holding West Virginia to 2-11 from the 3-point line.
Doolittle and Manek were 5-11 from the 3-point line combined. Outside of those two, Oklahoma was 2-5 from deep.