Rushed Reactions: West Virginia 69, Oklahoma 67

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 12th, 2016


Three key takeaways.

Buddy Hield's buzzer-beating three was a fraction of a second late, nullifying the crazy celebration it sparked.

Buddy Hield’s buzzer-beating three was ruled to be fraction of a second late, nullifying the celebration it sparked just behind Press Row.

  1. Buddy Hield and the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day. The National Player of the Year candidate had arguably his worst game of the year in more ways than one. Having played 152 of his team’s last 160 minutes, Hield wasn’t at 100 percent and it showed as he struggled to a 1-of-8 performance from the floor, but he had an opportunity to redeem himself in the game’s closing seconds. After West Virginia’s Jonathan Holton hit the back end of two free throw attempts to put West Virginia ahead by two points with one second left, Oklahoma had one last chance to tie the game or take the lead. Hield broke free from his defender, caught the inbounds pass and started up the sideline, hoisting a three from 50 feet away just as the buzzer sounded. The shot miraculously banked in, seemingly giving Oklahoma the victory and catapulting Hield into the stands to celebrate. After further review by the officials, though, the party was broken up and the bucket was overturned. Jubilation among the Sooners quickly transferred to the Mountaineers as the crowd buzzed in equal parts shock and delight. The absence of another game this weekend for Oklahoma could be a blessing in disguise, though, as it gives the Sooners another day of rest before the NCAA Tournament starts next week. The drama of March certainly hit Oklahoma’s star very hard on this night.
  2. West Virginia gets hot from deep. The Mountaineers will never be mistaken for a team that blinds opponents with their spacing, but they can get hot from outside and they did so tonight. Led by Jevon Carter’s 6-of-9 three-point shooting performance, West Virginia regularly found open shooters on its way to a 45.5 percent clip, the eighth time this season in which they eclipsed 40 percent from distance. The Mountaineers’ preferred style of offense is to create high-percentage looks generated by their press, but the added wrinkle of a perimeter game worthy of respect could raise this team’s ceiling once the brackets are unveiled on Sunday.
  3. There was more to the finish than the buzzer-beater that wasn’t. Between Hield’s struggles and West Virginia’s hot shooting, the Mountaineers built a 12-point lead with seven minutes left, but the Sooners rallied to create a back-and-forth contest over the last three minutes. Hield’s desperation heave twas a product of two key plays in just the last five seconds. With four ticks remaining and his team down by one, Christian James drove for a layup that would have given the Sooners the lead, but he shockingly missed the high-percentage look, which was rebounded by Holton. After Holton was fouled, he missed the first free throw to keep the lead at one with just one second remaining. Rather than intentionally missing the second free throw to significantly reduce the chance of Oklahoma getting a clear look, though, Holton hit the second free throw, setting the drama of the final play into motion. Fortunately for Holton and the Mountaineers, Hield’s three was ultimately waved off, but it’s always interesting to look back and see how one play — James’ botched layup, in this case — changes the complexion of a game.

Star of the Game: Jevon Carter. Shot-making was at a premium for West Virginia with the Mountaineers hitting just 38.3 percent of their attempts. Without Carter’s hot hand through most of the night, it would have been even worse. The sophomore played arguably the best game of his career, exploding for 26 points while the next-closest scorer contributed just 10. While Jaysean Paige is the Mountaineers’ leading scorer, one of the reasons why West Virginia is so hard to scout is because any of a number of players can go off on any given night. Carter happened to be that guy tonight, and it’s the reason why the Mountaineers have a chance to win their first Big 12 Tournament on Saturday.


  • “Just confidence. Seniors got me through it, because I had never been there on that big of a stage. Just giving me confidence to know they believe in me and my coach believes in me, so I tried to go out there and make plays.” – Christian James, on his increased playing time down the stretch. James, a seldom-used freshman, played 17 minutes, including the last 12:30 as starter as Jordan Woodard struggled to get going in the second half. Though James missed an easy go-ahead layup, the experience gained tonight should prove valuable as the Sooners look to rebuild next season.

Sights and Sounds: Despite the relatively late tip time, many fans from the earlier semifinal game between Kansas and Baylor stuck around to see two top-10 teams do battle. While some of those neutral fans headed for the exits as the night wore on, huge swaths of Sooners and Mountaineers faithful rooting for their respective teams did not. The result was one of the most raucous atmospheres for a game between two programs whose fans normally don’t show out well for the Big 12 Tournament. Those still in the building at the end were treated to an epic finish.

What’s Next: The loss is a bitter pill to swallow for Oklahoma, but because of West Virginia’s relative strength, the Sooners could still receive a #1 seed on Sunday evening. On the other side of the coin, the Mountaineers will move on to the Big 12 championship game to try to rediscover the defensive effort that beat Kansas in Morgantown on January 12.

Brian Goodman (987 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.

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