No. 11 West Virginia unable to pull off historic week of upsets
January 17, 2016 12:00 AM
J Pat Carter/Getty Images
West Virginia’s Jaysean Paige, right, knocks the ball away from Oklahoma’s Ryan Spangler in the second half Saturday in Norman, Okla. Paige scored 18 points, but the Mountaineers lost to the No. 2 Sooners, 70-68.
By Cliff Brunt / Associated Press
NORMAN, Okla. — West Virginia came agonizingly close to posting a historic week of basketball.
Khadeem Lattin’s tip-in with one second remaining gave No. 2 Oklahoma a 70-68 victory Saturday against the 11th-ranked Mountaineers.
Tuesday, West Virginia beat No. 1 Kansas. The Mountaineers were trying to become first team to beat the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in consecutive games since Kansas topped North Carolina and Memphis in the 2008 Final Four.
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said his team gave its all both games.
“We play hard,” he said. “We try. I think we compete. They’re good guys. They want to win, they try to win.”
West Virginia entered the weekend alone in first place in the Big 12 Conference. The Mountaineers might still be there if they had shot better than 13 for 22 from the free-throw line or hadn’t turned it over 16 times.
“What kills us is when we go to the free-throw line and can’t make free throws,” Huggins said. “You can’t shoot 50 percent from the free-throw line, and you can’t turn it over the way we turned it over.”
Jaysean Paige scored 18 points for West Virginia (15-2, 4-1). Devin Williams, the team’s top scorer and rebounder for the season, played just 15 minutes because of foul trouble and finished with five points and six rebounds.
“Devin Williams is ... probably a first-team all-league guy if he can play,” Huggins said. “He plays 15 minutes. That doesn’t help us. We want to sit here and talk about their second-chance points. It’s a hell of a lot easier to get second-chance points when he’s not on the floor.”
Buddy Hield scored 17 points, Jordan Woodard had 13 and Ryan Spangler added 10 points and 14 rebounds for the Sooners (15-1, 4-1).
Oklahoma is in position to move to No. 1 in the AP poll thanks to West Virginia’s win against top-ranked Kansas. It would be the Sooners’ first No. 1 ranking since March 1990. The Sooners won Saturday despite shooting a season-low 33.3 percent.
“It’s not something our guys focus on or think about every day, necessarily, or even have conversations about,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “But they’re fans, we all are, and it’s great, but it’s all about getting better tomorrow. The leadership of this group, the senior group, Jordan and those guys know that whatever is today is OK, but it’s nothing in terms of what we have to keep doing in Big 12 play in terms of getting better to keep challenging the opposition that lies ahead.”
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