MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — When Juwan Staten's breakaway layup put West Virginia ahead 43-31 with 17:58 left, the Mountaineers appeared poised for an easy victory over Oklahoma in their inaugural Big 12 contest Saturday.
Instead, the Sooners pulled the welcome wagon out from under WVU's feet, closing out the game with a 16-2 run over the final 5:25 for a 67-57 victory.
"I am really proud of our guys," said Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger. "Anytime you play a good West Virginia club at their place and you are down 12 early in the second half, it is a tough challenge. I thought our guys really responded very well and did just a terrific job of rebounding the basketball on both ends of the floor."
Romero Osby had 21 points and nine rebounds, and Steven Pledger added 12 as the Sooners (10-3, 1-0) beat the Mountaineers (7-6, 0-1) for the second time this year. The two league opponents met in a non-conference game in a Thanksgiving tournament which did not count against the standings.
West Virginia freshman Terry Henderson, who previously scored 23 points in a loss at No. 2 Michigan, was on pace for a career day until midway through the second half. Henderson finished with 21 points on seven 3-pointers, including six in the first half.
"I was getting open looks," he said. "I was getting open looks the whole game. Even when they went to a zone, I was still getting looks. As a team, I think we just got a whole bunch of open looks down low and on the perimeter that we just couldn't complete down the stretch."
Two other Mountaineers finished in double figures_Jabarie Hinds (11) and Staten (10).
West Virginia scored nine 3s in the first half but knocked down only seven field goals after intermission.
"Once our offense gets kind of stagnant, we tend to get stagnant on the defensive end, too," Staten said. "So I can always see it coming, but it's just something we have to fight against."
The Mountaineers, who were in the Big East last year, were up 43-31 after scoring three straight baskets early in the second half — a three-point play by Hinds, a 3 by Henderson and an easy score by Staten with the Oklahoma players chasing him down the court.
Oklahoma dominated from there. Trailing by 12 points, the Sooners held West Virginia to two field goals over the next 9½ minutes — Deniz Kilicli's make at the 14:11 mark and a layup by Staten with 9:32 to go. Oklahoma outscored the Mountaineers 15-5 during that time.
"I don't know if our missed shots affect us on the defensive end," Staten said. "I think on the defensive end we just tend to relax a lot. Guarding the ball, we relax and get beat off the dribble, or a guy that's supposed to rotate is relaxing because the ball is on the opposite side of the floor and then his rotation comes, he misses it and they get a basket."