Oklahoma (9-3) at West Virginia (7-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 5, 4 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: WVU Coliseum (14,000) -- Morgantown, West Virginia. Television: Big 12 Network. Home Record: OU 4-1, WVU 5-0. Away Record: OU 2-1, WVU 0-2. Neutral Record: OU 3-1, WVU 2-3. Conference Record: OU 0-0, WVU 0-0. Series Record: OU leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: For the second time this season, the Oklahoma Sooners and West Virginia Mountaineers will meet up, although this time around they are meeting at WVU Coliseum in their respective Big 12 openers.
These teams met in Orlando, Florida over the Thanksgiving holiday as part of the Old Spice Classic. The Sooners held West Virginia to 36.2-percent shooting from the floor to claim a 77-70 victory. OU has won two of the three meetings in the all-time series between these new conference foes.
Oklahoma enters the contest with wins in three of its last four outings. The Sooners have been idle since a 72-42 rout over Texas A&M Corpus Christi on New Year's Eve. Following this tilt, they'll get another week off before hosting Oklahoma State next Saturday.
West Virginia is playing its first official Big 12 conference game. The Mountaineers have won six of their last eight games, including a 74-67 triumph over Eastern Kentucky in their most recent contest this past Sunday. The Mountaineers have an 85-percent success rate at WVU Coliseum over the last eight seasons and are 5-0 at home this season.
As a sophomore at Wyoming in 2010-11, Amath M'Baye started all 31 games and averaged 12.0 points and a team-best 5.7 rebounds for the Cowboys. After transferring to OU and sitting out last season due to NCAA rules, M'Baye has started to get more comfortable in a Sooners jersey over the last two games. He tallied 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting to go along with six rebounds and three steals in a win over Ohio University last Saturday, then followed it up with a 14-point, six-rebound performance against Corpus Christi two days later. Steven Pledger (11.5 ppg) led the way with 17 points in Monday's win behind a 5-of-10 shooting effort from the perimeter. The Sooners forced 18 turnovers in the victory while holding Corpus Christi to 29.3-percent shooting from the floor. With the defense in midseason form, leading scorer Romero Osby (12.6 ppg) took only one shot and finished with eight points and six boards in 19 minutes.
WVU led the Colonels by as many as 16 points early in the second half of Sunday's matchup. However, EKU shot a blistering 63 percent from the floor over the final 20 minutes, which included eight 3-pointers, and eventually took the lead late in the contest. In comparison, the Mountaineers made only 7-of-21 field goals after halftime. But WVU also made 25-of-30 free throws in the second half, including nine of 10 over the final four minutes to thwart EKU's rally and seal the win. Juwan Staten and Gary Browne scored 17 apiece, while Aaric Murray pulled down a dozen rebounds to go along with eight points for the Mountaineers. Still, coach Bob Huggins voiced plenty of displeasure following the game. His team has struggled offensively through stretches this season. Staten (11.1 ppg), a transfer from Dayton, and Murray (10.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg), a La Salle transfer, are the only players averaging double figures for the Mountaineers, who are shooting just 40.5 percent from the floor as a team.
Both of these teams rely heavily on transfers and both are seeking an identity as they enter Big 12 play. Although they nearly squandered an easy victory their last time out, look for the Mountaineers to learn their lesson and put forth a full 40 minutes of solid basketball playing on their home floor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: West Virginia 81, Oklahoma 74
01/05 10:35:30 ET