KANSAS CITY — Buddy Hield nearly cracked the Big 12 tournament scoring record, and he wasn’t even the most productive player during the second half.
Georges Niang scored 25 of his 31 points after the break to keep No. 21 Iowa State in contention, at least until Hield’s runout dunk culminated his 39-point performance and cemented a 79-76 victory for No. 6 Oklahoma.
From a memorable shootout highlighting the league’s most decorated seniors, the Sooners (25-6) flipped their focus to Friday night’s semifinal against No. 9 West Virginia (25-7), which had a far easier time dispatching TCU.
Oklahoma swept West Virginia during the regular season—70-68 on a last-second putback in Norman before an easier win in Morgantown, 76-62.
“Just got to find open gaps and know when to attack,” Hield said of facing “Press Virginia” a third time. “Just be smart because they’re coming at you, reaching and grabbing.”
Indeed, the Mountaineers’ concept of defense is stickier and more disruptive than anything Iowa State (21-11) has offered. Yet Lon Kruger felt Oklahoma earned its man-card while committing only nine turnovers at the WVU Coliseum.
“West Virginia is a physical team and we have to be physical just as much as them,” said OU guard Isaiah Cousins. “Coach Kruger gets us prepared every time we’ve played them. He really focused on being physical.”
Tipoff: 9 p.m. Eastern Friday at the Sprint Center (ESPN2)
RPIs: Oklahoma 5, West Virginia 10
Scouting the Sooners: Hield (25.1 points, 5.5 rebounds) received his Big 12 player of the year trophy from Commissioner Bob Bowlsby before Thursday’s quarterfinal. He had mixed results against WVU, scoring 17 and managed only 11 shots—one off his season low—during the first meeting. Hield was more active in the rematch with 29 points on 9-of-21 shooting. … Cousins (13.0 points, 4.6 assists) and Jordan Woodard (12.9 points, 3.6 assists) are essentially dual point guards who shoot better than 42 percent on 3s. … Watch the physicality around Ryan Spangler (10.8 points, 9.5 rebounds), who really grates on West Virginia’s players. … Khadeem Lattin (5.5 points, 5.5 rebounds), the tip-in hero in Game 1, blocked six shots in Game 2.
WVU trends: Jaysean Paige (14.2 points) endured a 4-of-16 shooting day vs. OU in Morgantown, when West Virginia made only 33 percent overall. … Tarik Phillip (9.6 points, 2.8 assists) shoots 42 percent from 3, and Jevon Carter (9.3 points, 3.4 assists) showed his best outside touch in two months against TCU. … Devin Williams (12.9 points, 9.2 rebounds) collected his 14th double-double in the quarterfinals, He and Jonathan Holton (9.3 points, 7.9 rebounds) will be needed Friday, considering the Sooners badly outrebounded WVU 46-33 in Morgantown.
Prediction: West Virginia 77, Oklahoma 76