MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s balance offset Oklahoma’s one-man show.
The No. 6 Mountaineers put four players in double figures, led by Teddy Allen’s 20 points and Jevon Carter’s third double-double of the season, in winning a Top 10 showdown against the seventh-ranked Sooners 89-76 on Saturday night.
With Carter in foul trouble for much of the season half, Allen anchored the scoring with a second straight 20-plus point game while Dax Miles and Beetle Bolden continued to harass OU point guard Trae Young. A match-up between the national Defensive Player of the Year in Carter and a surefire NBA pick in Young was dissipated for a 10-minute stretch in the second half when Carter went to the bench with foul trouble at the 13:30 mark and WVU nursing a 53-51 lead.
“Part of the game,” said Carter, who was called for his third and fourth fouls in a three-plus minute stretch, the latter a whistle on a play against Young that drew thunderous boos from the crowd of 15,106. “I got in foul trouble and had to sit. Just believe. I have a whole lot of confidence in my teammates. Whether I am in or out, I feel the same way.”
Carter’s foul issues seemed like a prime opportunity for Young and Oklahoma to strike. Instead, the move backfired as West Virginia was forced to become more resourceful with its best scorer on the bench. Where Carter was carrying the load since the latter portions of the first half – and being smothered by OU’s 6-foot-6 Rashard Odomes over the first seven minutes of the second – the Mountaineers went with a total team concept that saw five different players score in a key stretch where WVU not only survived sans Carter, but thrived.
Feeding off Allen’s slashing and Sags Konate’s jumpshooting and ability to back down Khadeem Lattin in the paint, West Virginia turned the fading 53-51 edge into a 69-59 advantage with seven minutes left. Five different players scored during the push, showing the Mountaineers’ balance and ball distribution even sans Carter.
“We played that way all year if you think about it,” head coach Bob Huggins said. “It hasn’t been all J.C. Dax has had his moments. Teddy has had momets. Beetle has had moments.”
It was, frankly, a shock to the Sooners’ system as the Mountaineers outscored OU 23-17 with Carter on the bench, managing to hold a 76-68 lead when the senior checked back in with 3:43 to play. It was elementary from there, WVU using three straight lay-ups and five free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
That last bucket was an exclamation point, Carter finding a streaking Miles on an outlet pass that led to a dunk for the final margin.
“That’s Press Virginia, man,” said Allen, who hit nine of 11 shots from the field. “We got 10 cats who can play, can start games, finish games. No matter who goes down: J.C., Dax, Lamont (West), me. No matter who goes down, we are going to be able to play just the same.”
Besides Allen’s 20 points, West Virginia got 17 from both Carter and West. Carter also tallied 10 assists for his third double-double of the season. Konate finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Young’s 29 led Oklahoma, though the point guard missed nine of his 12 3-pointers. Jamuni McNeace scored 12 and Odomes added 11 for Oklahoma, which gave up 21 points off 17 turnovers.
“That was a tough battle,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. “They got away a little bit in the later part of the first half and we made a good run to take the lead back in the second. They’re tough. Carter is terrific, of course, but when he’s out the other guys picked up the slack and did a good job for them.”
The win was the 14th straight for West Virginia (14-1, 3-0), which led 44-36 at the break after Carter scored all 12 points during a late 12-2 run. Oklahoma (12-2, 2-1) responded with 15 of the first 24 points of the second half to get within 53-51 before Carter went to the bench and West Virginia managed to showcase excellent team offense.
“The other guys are getting better,” said Huggins, who now has 15 wins over top 10 teams at WVU. “As long as we can keep hamming and egging it. It’s like a golf scramble. Everyone doesn’t have to hit a good shot, just somebody. That’s what happened to us.”
Notes: The Mountaineers are now 14-1 for the third time in four years … WVU is 10-6 in its last 16 games versus Top 25 teams … The 14-game winning streak is the program’s longest in 29 years … this was the sixth time in history WVU has hosted a top 10 match-up, but the third time since 2016 … West Virginia made 18 of 21 free throws while and won the rebounding battle by one at 38-37 … The Mountaineers have now made 58 of 69 free throws (84.1 percent) over the three Big 12 games.
— Matt Keller