MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s 38-point blowout win over Kansas State came with a rapid expiration date.
Such is life with these Big 12 Saturday-Monday turnarounds, a gap seemingly more compressed when the Trae Young Challenge awaits on deck.
The Mountaineers (17-6, 6-4) prevailed 89-76 in last month’s meeting against Oklahoma (16-6, 6-4), and now comes the rematch in Norman, where the Sooners are 11-0 this season.
Young’s deep 3s and penetrating moves have fueled a freshman uproar. The nation’s leading scorer (29.8) on the country’s highest-scoring team (89.9), he punishes all that defensive attention by handing out 9.7 assists, also tops in Division I.
“They’ve got a very good player,” said West Virginia guard Beetle Bolden. “We’ve just got to try to contain him as much as we can.”
Jevon Carter limited Young for large stretches of the first meeting before second-half foul trouble sent the Mountaineers’ defensive ace to the bench. Young finished with 29 points, albeit on 8-of-22 shooting, and committed eight turnovers. His five assists that day remain a season-low.
On Saturday, Young shot 7-of-22 in a 79-74 loss at Texas and his 19 points were his fewest in league play because he only attempted three free throws, less than one-third his average. Playing all 40 minutes, he still recorded an eye-popping 14 assists, though his team faded when the Longhorns closed the game on a 22-8 run.
“I don’t think I got worn down,” Young said. “All my shots were either short or long. That’s a good sign. It’s not left or right besides one airball that was off-balance. Besides that, I think they were all on-line.”
Coach Lon Kruger wasn’t worried about his team slipping, not when the Sooners are 6-4 against the RPI top 50 and only one game back of the league lead.
“Had it in pretty good shape for 34, 35 minutes (at Texas) and then we didn’t handle things very well in the last five,” he said.
West Virginia’s demeanor improved dramatically while steamrolling K-State 89-51, a win that halted a three-game slide and reinvigorated things defensively.
“We had to turn the pressure back up,” Carter said. “That’s what we are, Press Virginia.”
No. 19 West Virginia (17-6, 6-4)
at No. 17 Oklahoma (16-6, 6-4)
Tipoff: Monday, 9 p.m. in Norman, Okla. (ESPN)
The skinny: The Mountaineers are 0-7 under Bob Huggins in Monday road games following a Saturday home game. They are 1-4 all-time at Lloyd Noble Center. … Trae Young is still on pace to challenge Chris Jackson’s NCAA freshman scoring record set in 1989 (30.2 points per game). … Krueger has stuck with the same starting five in 20 of 22 games. … Freshman Brady Manek is a 6-foot-9 stretch four who shoots 41 percent from 3 and scores 11.3 points. Christian James (11.8 points), Kameron McGusty (7.7 points) and Rashard Odomes (8.0 points) are long guards, while senior center Kadeem Lattin pairs well with Jamuni McNeace in the middle. … OU has 10 players averaging 11 minutes or more.
Scouting WVU: In Big 12 games only, WVU ranks second in points allowed (69.8) and field-goal defense (42.9 percent). … Jevon Carter (16.9 points, 6.8 assists, 5.1 rebounds) was plus-nine on assist-to-turnover ratio vs. K-State, matching a career-best. He ranks second nationally in steals. … Sagaba Konate (10.5 points, 8.0 rebounds), Beetle Bolden (9.9 points, 44 percent from 3) and Esa Ahmad (9.4 points, 4.9 rebounds) are the key rotational players. Daxter Miles (12.5 points, 3.5 assists) could rejoin the starting five after a bout with the flu. … Konate is averaging nearly a double-double in 10 league games at 12.8 points and 9.7 rebounds. … Teddy Allen scored 20 points off the bench vs. OU in Morgantown on Jan. 6. He had since become an offensive ghost until scoring 12 vs. K-State. “We had a good scheme to beat (the Sooners) the first time and I’m sure Huggs will give us another one,” Allen said.
RPIs: West Virginia 35, Oklahoma 14
Line: Oklahoma favored by 2
Prediction: Oklahoma 80-77