NORMAN — Senior Steven Pledger has always been fine being the guy to take the shot. He has never been scared — not when he was little and not when he was called on Wednesday night.
Even though he didn’t know the final score of the Oklahoma State game at that point, Pledger knew he needed to make baskets to help Oklahoma to a 83-70 win over West Virginia.
Making shots meant one more victory on the resume. One more step closer to dancing in March. One more step closer to being the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 Tournament.
“It meant a lot,” Pledger said of his final home game at the Lloyd Noble Center. “Being here all four years, and been through the ups and downs, but it definitely meant a lot.”
So does the chance at the postseason for the first time in his career.
The Sooners could be the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament because of OSU’s loss to Iowa State on Wednesday night — the Sooners still need to beat TCU on Saturday paired with an OSU loss at home to Kansas State.
That would put OU and OSU at 12-6 in the conference and the tiebreaker — since OU and OSU split with Kansas, lost both to Kansas State, split when they played each other and both split with Iowa State — would come down to Baylor. OU swept the season series with Baylor while OSU split two games.
“Well as a fan of the game, you always look and try to find what is going on as far as that,” Sooners senior Romero Osby said of the postseason. “You just got to stay focused on the next game. We’re excited that we might have an opportunity.”
The Sooners found their shots in unlikely, sometimes off-balance ways Wednesday.
Within nine minutes of the start of the game, Oklahoma got out to its largest lead of the game, 25-8, thanks to Osby’s consistency and Pledger’s fearlessness from beyond the arc.
“It’s a different mindset,” Pledger said about making big shots. “I don’t think everybody can do it in clutch moments or key moments in the game. People say they want to, but to do it is hard. The fact that I have confidence to go out and do it — it’s nothing to me.”
Pledger finished the game with 23 points. Osby led all scorers with 26 points. Eron Harris led West Virginia with 23 points.
Despite the large early lead, the Sooners had a hard time holding onto the ball and committed eight first-half turnovers. They allowed the Mountaineers a 6-0 run to end the first half.
The start of the second half was still a bit sloppy for the Sooners, but a 3-pointer by Amath M’Baye and a late scoring spurt by senior Andrew Fitzgerald put the game away.
“Amath made some big shots,” Osby said. “(Fitzgerald) had a five-point spurt and that kind of pulled us away.”
Pledger continued to drain threes, going 5-of-10 from beyond the arc and hit the final basket of the game — a 3-pointer.
“If I miss it, so what,” Pledger said of the mindset he’s had since when he was little. “That’s just always something I’ve held myself to.”
As the Sooners ran off the court, country music singer and Oklahoma basketball fan Toby Keith stood in front of the tunnel opening, waiting to shake their hands.
“20 wins,” Keith said. “20 wins baby. Let’s go get 21.”