For all the inconsistencies plaguing West Virginia this season, the Mountaineers certainly have developed a reliable pattern when it comes to losing to Oklahoma.

For the third time in their regular-season trilogy, WVU challenged the Sooners only to crumble at crunch time. Wednesday night’s storyline saw the Mountaineers pull within four at the 5:15 mark then commit three fouls and two turnovers before scoring their next basket.

That allowed Oklahoma to polish off an 83-70 Senior Night win punctuated by several senior standouts. Take the 26 points from Romero Osby, for example, or the 23 points from Steven Pledger. And don’t overlook senior reserve Andrew Fitzgerald, who scored all five of his points during the final five minutes and grabbed five of OU’s 14 offensive rebounds.

The win left the Sooners (20-9, 11-6 Big 12) comfortably on the safe side of the NCAA bubble, while West Virginia (13-17, 6-11) saddled coach Bob Huggins with his first five-game losing streak by proving yet again its incapability of beating above-average teams. The Mountaineers fell to 1-14 against the RPI top 100, a Dec. 30 win over No. 64 Eastern Kentucky standing as the anomaly.

The losing is clearly wearing on Huggins, who hasn’t had a team finish below .500 since the 1984-85 season at Akron.

“I’ve said it time and again, it’s my fault,” Huggins said. “At the end of day, I’m the one responsible, because I put my signature on the letters of intent. It’s my fault, and I’m going to fix it.”

And just how does Huggins plan to fix it?

“We’re going to have personnel changes, obviously.”

Though it’s small consolation to Huggins, Oklahoma is just one year removed from going 15-16 overall and 5-13 in the Big 12. So improvement can transpire rapidly, and with freshman Eron Harris emerging as a floor-stretching force (he scored 23 vs. the Sooners), Huggins has a potential star to build around next season.

“But it takes more than one good player,” he said.

“We’ve lost three games to Oklahoma because they have absolutely kicked our behinds on the offensive glass.” — Bob Huggins

Oklahoma threatened to embarrass the Mountaineers after bolting to a 25-7 lead, with Osby and Pledger combining for 18 in the opening surge. The halftime margin stood at 39-28, but WVU mounted a 13-3 run early in the second half and closed to within 44-41 on Aaric Murray’s 3-pointer.

Though the Sooners rebuilt the spread to 13, West Virginia charged back once more, closing to 68-64 on a jumper by Deniz Kilicli, who finished with 20 points.

But that was as close as WVU came. Fitzgerald rebounded his own miss and was fouled on the putback for three-point play that started a 9-2 run.

“We’ve lost three games to Oklahoma because they have absolutely kicked our behinds on the offensive glass,” Huggins said. “We said coming in that we have to rebound and we cannot allow Oklahoma to get second-chance points.”

Instead the Sooners enjoyed a 23-8 edge in second-chance points.

And West Virginia whiffed on its third chance to take down the Sooners.

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Comments

  • Sam

    Let's be thankful the recruits don't listen to Huggins postgame commentas on the radio and hope their aversion to words keeps them from reading them places like here. He speaks in a self-pitying croak and the only responsibility he is willing to even acknowledge is for recruiting what he calls bad players. I'm sure that would be real attractive to players who realize he will do the same thing to them.

    These is a place for constructive criticism but
    Huggins isn't being constructive and the place is not in the media. These types of conversations should be between players and coach. It's not just wrong to do what Huggins is doing it is self-destructive.

    He needs to take a vacation after ths season ends and decide whether he still wants to be a basketball coach. If so, his first priority must be FIXING hiumself. He won't be able to fix anything else if he's nt willing to do that.

  • Shadow

    Did anyone ever think how hard it must be to get a player to commit to Morgantown when there are so many other good places to live and play?

  • Big Dog

    i've said all along that kilicili was a cancer to this team... He openly admitted he doesn't pay much attention to what Huggins says. I think that was early this season.
    And you're right, the turk plays about 10 min. a game and then loafs the rest..
    and .K. Miles was the super freshman of last years team, was a starter. Huggins told us how long he was and how good he was going to be, just like how great kilicili was going to be.
    I don't know ab out coach huggins and his recruiting or who recruits these guys.
    and yes, i don't like the screaming, and i don't like huggins throwing his players under the bus, openly and on tv and in press conferences...
    that's not classy and that's not professional

  • Pickled Rose

    Did I hear Huggins say on tonight talk show that he did not know the referees called the game differently in the Big 12 than is called in the Big East? Huggins, buddy, you coached a WHOLE season at Kansas State! As far as the caliber of your players, all of them would be hard pressed to get in the game at any Big East or ACC school. What a pitful mess and how much do we pay Huggins and his staff? Holgerson? and Luck?

  • Pghmountaineer

    This is very sad. The problem is that our coach thinks it's all the players fault. The only blame he takes is that he recruited them.
    The fact that these guys haven't improved one bit from the start of the season apparently is not his fault. And please let's be honest, Kilicli is not much better now than he was a freshman. I really don;t believe any player out there likes loosing and it's obviuos
    they are playing under stress.
    It's a very sad and messy situation.

  • Jack

    How do you lose 3 times in a season to just an average team? Some of the WVU players seem to be a step or two slow on defense and get out of position so they commit fouls. This team fouls more than any other I have seen. Keep Harris and Henderson along with the incoming recruits and try to build around them.

  • Allan Jones

    I think I will take in some high school varsity and JV games to see how good the coaching is. Seems to me that many of the kids today coming from high school and pre high school have little knowledge of the basics of basketball and by the time they reach college, well...it's too late.

  • Allan Jones

    tw ealge, have we a new coach "higgins"? Was that a typo or was that intentional? As for getting on the porch, you may be right. I'm not for screaming at the young men in front of the Mountaineer faithful, although it probably is needed a few times a game. I think parents need to look at their kids too, see if some of the fault lies with them. Many of these kids wouldn't get near the front door of a university if it were not for their athletic abilities and they should be grateful they have this opportunity of a free education.

    • chad

      Allan,
      That's no typo. that is tw's way of disrespecting Huggs. He thinks it's creative and funny but really its very hackish.

  • Allan Jones

    At half time I see many little kids running up and down the court playing their hearts out, I wonder if any of these kids could be future talent for WVU, only time will tell? Aside from this, we seem to recruit kids that look good on tape but seem to be lacking in the basics of BB and BB knowledge: Can't dribble, can't bounce pass, can't shoot, can't defend, can't listen to coaches, have no love for the game or dedication....any wonder why we are doing so poorly.

    • TBone Porterhouse

      John Beilein recruited guys with high basketball IQ's. Huggins recruits its-all-about-me thugs from the inner cities. Its pretty sad when a coach has to dumb down his offensive packages because the players HE recruited cannot comprehend much of anything. When you recruit players who are allergic to books, this kind of thing is bound to happen.

  • Big Larry

    Because of such a wonderful job that Bob Huggins has done with the WVU Men’s Basketball Program, WVU should very strongly consider giving him a new contract extension with incentives that would pay him handsomely and make him financially secure for life.

    His extensive basketball experience warrants the most lucrative financial coaching contract ever offered to a WVU coach. After all, we wouldn’t want someone to come along and steal him away from us like they did John Beilein and Rich Rodriguez.

    A non binding, unconditional, no clause lifetime contract that pays a base minimum of 3 million dollars a year for as long as he wants it…win or lose, we need to set this great man up for life.

    Oh wait…They already did that…My Bad…

  • tw eagle

    higgins will have to comb the juco ranks . . .no family who cares for their son will let higgins on the front porch , let alone through the door . . .

    is there any West Virginia talent that the legislature can coerce into attending WVU ?

  • cutty77

    The Team Played pretty well with all things considered.Huggs didn't yell as much,which helps ALOT.Maybe he's getting Horse from Yelling all year.LOL I liked what i saw,might be able to win one maybe 2 games before this year is over.Its very Important for this Team to finish the year with a Win.

  • Larry

    At least it's just college basketball, a dying sport growing less and less popular, maybe the football team can do something.

  • LittleJohn

    Eron looks good. It that is the only positive that comes out of this mess, at least it is something positive to come out of this season.

    It's almost over and I hope Huggs takes a good hard look at the coaches who recruited Dalton, Danny, McCune, Brown, Miles, Browne and Murray and who decided to take Hinds over Boatright.

    Therein lies your problem if you are honest about it Huggs. The kids didn't recruit themselves.

    • big tom

      if you remember , boatright changed his mind not wvu,,, we were first on his list and then all of a sudden he says he head to uconn.

      • LittleJohn

        The way I remember it, he switched just after jabarie committed.

  • FSU

    Wonder if any of these guys will end up at Fairmont State next year...

    • chad

      One can only hope. The entire sophmore class needs to pack their bags