MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — A 2,000-mile trip to West Virginia that took 24 hours and included a detour to New Jersey was a big challenge for No. 21 Oklahoma.
Playing the Mountaineers turned out to be a test, too, and now the Sooners have their first losing streak of the season after falling to West Virginia 91-86 in overtime Wednesday night.
“Yeah, it was pretty tough having to travel and having to keep thinking about where we were going to end up, where our next destination was,” Oklahoma’s Jordan Woodard said. “But we just kept telling each other we have to stay mentally focused and concentrate on the game. We knew we were going to get here eventually, and whenever we got here we were going to keep it between the lines.”
The Sooners’ flight out of Oklahoma City was delayed for several hours Tuesday due to mechanical issues before the team switched planes.
After the plane began descending to an airport in Clarksburg, a half hour south of Morgantown, visibility problems during a winter storm forced the pilot to abort the landing. Similar problems at other airports forced the flight to divert to Newark, N.J. The Sooners checked into a hotel there at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Twelve hours later, after yet another delay on the runway, the team boarded a flight for Clarksburg. Upon landing, the Sooners got a state police escort and arrived at the arena 90 minutes before tipoff.
Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said he didn’t believe the travel slowed his players’ performances.
“These guys are young and they love to play,” Kruger said. “I didn’t see any of it today.”
Sophomore Eron Harris was the difference for West Virginia, scoring 26 of his 28 points after halftime as the Mountaineers broke a streak of 16 straight losses against opponents in The Associated Press poll dating to the 2011-12 season.