Friday night did not disappoint. The Big 12 Conference semi-finals game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners and West Virginia University Mountaineers may have been the best ending of any basketball game this year…..not including the Thunder game against Golden State. Obviously the talk will be about Buddy Hield’s last second shot from half-court that would’ve won the game for OU if it was released in time. West Virginia ended up winning the game 69-67.
West Virginia’s game plan was perfect to stop this Oklahoma high-powered offense. They forced 21 turnovers, and held Buddy to only 6 points , off 1-of-8 shooting for the game. When you hold the best player in college basketball who averages 25 points per-game to just 8 shots, 99 times out of 100 times you’re going to win the game. Also if OU continues to turn the ball over like they’re doing they have no chance in the NCAA Tournament. However Oklahoma’s role players picked up the slack and the entire team played great defense. To be honest it was a very well played game defensively by both squads.
Oklahoma’s big run towards the end of the second half to overcome a double-digit deficit was quite honorable and Isaiah Cousins fueled that run scoring 15 points off 5-of-10 shooting. Freshman guard Christian James scored 13 points in the biggest game of his young career, and also played a huge role in that fourth quarter comeback.
Although Buddy did not have the game he surely planned on having, stars show up when they need to, and he did…sort of. The last second shot from a little beyond half court sent the OU bench into a frenzy as Hield jumped into the crowd, screaming, pumping his fists and pulling on his jersey like they won the game, but things got real when he saw the referee reviewing the call. As both teams stopped everything they were doing, along with the fans, Buddy and Isaiah sat and waited in clear agony. After a couple minutes of waiting, West Virginia fans and players started to celebrate and at that point it was clear they defeated the Sooners.
With this loss, OU’s resume won’t be too damaged. This is a really good West Virginia team that did finish second in the conference. Everything went “as planned” if you’re looking at the Big 12 rankings. I think that 7 of the 10 conference teams will make it into the NCAA Tournament. My projections below.
NCAA tournament teams to make the tournament.
1.) Kansas 1
2.) West Virginia 2 (unless they defeat KU)
3.) Oklahoma 3
4.) Texas 5
5.) Baylor 5
6.) Iowa State 6
7.) Texas Tech 8
Photo credit: Bryan Terry