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WVU basketball: Sooners better later, 67-57

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The story at the beginning of the week was about the same at the end, though with minor alterations.

This time, West Virginia waited until the second half to build and then lose a double-digit lead.

And this time, the Mountaineers lost.

Six days after giving away all of a 16-point lead at home before coming back and holding on against Eastern Kentucky, WVU followed torrid shooting to a 12-point lead in Saturday's second half, but lost to Oklahoma, 67-57.

A Coliseum crowd of 12,112 watched the Mountaineers make a season-high 11 3-pointers, but just two after halftime, and shoot 30 percent. Only once this season has WVU shot worse from the floor -- and that was the season-opening 27.6 percent against Gonzaga.

"The truth of the matter is they just wanted to win more than we did," Coach Bob Huggins said. "They outrebounded us. We throw it close and come up empty. They throw it close and score or get fouled and go to the line and make free throws.

"Today we got out-toughed."

The Mountaineers (7-6, 0-1 Big 12) had a three-game winning streak snapped at the end of their four-game, 23-day homestand. Their Big 12 debut was the second loss this season when they led by at least double figures in the second half. WVU dropped a 60-56 game against Duquesne last month after leading by 13 points at halftime and 15 early in the second half.

"I think it's our concentration over 40 minutes," said point guard Juwan Staten, who had 10 points, five rebounds and seven assists. "We have a problem concentrating for 40 minutes and we play in spurts and go through droughts, go through scoring droughts, and we don't get stops."

After taking a 43-31 lead on freshman Terry Henderson's sixth 3-pointer of the game, WVU was outscored 18-5 in 8:44. A 3 from Jabarie Hinds with 5:44 to go gave the Mountaineers a 55-51 lead, but they missed their final six shots and committed two turnovers.

After going ahead by 12 points, the Mountaineers had four baskets and six turnovers. They finished with 14 turnovers and 12 assists, the sixth time this season with more turnovers than assists.

The Sooners (10-3, 1-0), who beat the Mountaineers 77-70 in the Old Spice Classic in November, scored 17 points off WVU's miscues.

"Am I surprised? Yeah," Hinds said. "We're in conference play now and we should know what we're doing in games and we should have a better understanding on the court."

Hinds took a step out of a prolonged shooting and scoring slump with 11 points -- as many as he had the previous three games -- though on 3-for-7 shooting. He was 2-for-4 from 3-point range after going 0-for-10 the previous five games. His last 3 was Dec. 8 against Virginia Tech.

Aaric Murray had eight points -- all in the first 6:10 -- and Deniz Kilicli scored just three points. WVU's starting frontcourt combined for only 10 rebounds as the team was outrebounded 40-43, and 23-18 in the second half. The Sooners outscored WVU 15-8 in second-chance points.

"If we're not going to rebound it, why play those guys?" Huggins said. "I have a hard time with that, quite honestly, because my teams have always rebounded."

Henderson was the only WVU player to shoot 50 percent from the floor. He was 7-for-14 and 6-for-11 from 3-point range for 21 points. Henderson had 18 points and five 3s in the first half.

"Terry came out lights out," Hinds said. "He was shooting the ball real well. They couldn't stop him. They slowed him down a little bit in the second half. He could have been more aggressive and put it on the floor and tried to make plays, but it happens."

The Mountaineers shot 7-for-29 in the second half and 2-for-11 from 3-point range. They're shooting 39.7 percent from the floor this season -- and 17 teams shoot better from 3-point range.

Romero Osby had 21 points and nine rebounds, but did much of his damage in the second half with14 points and and seven rebounds. Steven Pledger added 12 points and a pair of late 3s to propel the Sooners. They shot 45.1 percent and had just three turnovers in the second half.

"A big key in the ballgame was that in the first 10 minutes we got second-chance opportunities and loose balls and in the middle portion of the game they did that," Oklahoma Coach Lon Kruger said. "They got the second shots and the loose balls and then the last few minutes it kind of swung back our way.

"I think a lot of times in conference games it comes down to 50-50 balls, the second shot opportunities and just getting that rebound when it is in your hands and valuing each possession."

WVU's first half hinted at trouble, despite some success. The Mountaineers attempted 19 3-pointers and made just two 2-point baskets, and those came nearly 15 minutes apart. Yet they overcame a six-point deficit to lead by as much at halftime, 35-29.

WVU was happy with outside shots from the start. Murray rolled in a 3 from up top to start the scoring and had two 3s before the first media timeout. Six of the 10 Mountaineers who played in the first half would try a 3 and four would make one.

The Sooners led 17-11 and were 8-for-16 from the floor in the middle of the first half when Henderson got going. His two 3s made it 19-17 and then Hinds followed with one to make it 21-20. After the Sooners scored, Henderson made one free throw and missed another, but hit a 3 to give the Mountaineers a 24-23 lead.

A free throw and a 3 from Oklahoma's Je'lon Hornbeak made it 27-24, but Henderson tied the score and then put WVU ahead with consecutive 3s. His reverse layup with six seconds to go in the half was his team's only points in the paint in the first half. The other 2-point basket, a tricky jumper on the move by Staten, gave WVU an 11-9 lead at the 14:45 mark.

WVU plays at Texas (8-6, 0-1) Wednesday. The Longhorns lost in overtime Saturday to Baylor.

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymail.com">mikec@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.


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