NORMAN — Say what you will concerning No. 23 Oklahoma, but it has been a very predictable team. It rarely blows opponents away, nor has an opponent blown out the Sooners this season.
Wednesday night’s 72-62 victory over West Virginia was another example.
“It was a night when it wasn’t real smooth but they kept playing and kept battling and figured out a way to win a ball game,” OU coach Lon Kruger said.
The win placed the Sooners (22-8, 11-6 Big 12) in a tie with Texas for second place in the Big 12 Conference with one regular-season game to go. Since OU swept the Longhorns this season, a win Saturday at last-place TCU (9-20, 0-17 Big 12) will give the Sooners the No. 2 seed for next week’s Big 12 tournament at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.
It’s remarkable to think OU is one win away from finishing six games over .500 in the league and its point differential in conference play is 1,325 to 1,272. It’s a paltry 3.1 points a game on the plus side.
Can’t sport the record the Sooners boast without the ability to play well in the final minutes. Wednesday’s performance was another example.
OU trailed Wednesday night with a little less than 12 minutes to go. At that time, 3-pointers were not falling. The only production by Buddy Hield, OU’s leading scorer, was a single made free throw. OU was officially on upset alert.
Then the Sooners went out and dominated the second half of the second half.
Hield finally got one 3-pointer to drop and two more followed in a 90-second span. The defense tightened and OU pulled away for a double-digit win.
All of it was because OU didn’t panic and kept playing.
“The coaching staff and the players keep on letting me shoot, and it helps my confidence level when they trust me shooting the basketball,” Hield said. “I just got a good look and was able to knock it down, and I just got in a rhythm afterwards.”