Despite a late surge by Oklahoma that gave the Sooners a 67-64 lead with under two minutes to play; it will be the West Virginia Mountaineers representing the other half of the Big 12 Championship matchup on Saturday night (5 PM, ESPN). West Virginia controlled the pace throughout most of the game, frustrated Buddy Hield and the Sooners on the perimeter, and used hot shooting from behind the arc to play for their first ever Big 12 tournament championship.
Just one night after dropping 39 points against Iowa State, Buddy Hield was stymied by a West Virginia defense that came in to the game determined to stop Hield and pressure him on each touch. It worked as Hield was held to a single point in the first half as the Mountaineers took a 30-29 lead in to the break that was aided in large part to Hield's quiet start and the Sooners refusal to hang on to the ball.
Not much changed after the second half whistle blew and it was Jevon Carter's hot shooting from behind the arc that stretched West Virginia's lead to 44-36 four minutes in to the second stanza. Oklahoma was down by as much as 11 with eight minutes to go but through defensive effort managed to hang around until Christian James and Isaiah Cousins stepped up.
With shooting from Cousins and pure effort from James the Sooners cut the lead down to two with three and a half minutes to go and James' three pointer on the next possession gave Oklahoma their first lead since the first half, 62-61.
The teams exchanged jumpers and free throws late, but it was Ryan Spangler's lack of clutch for the second year in a row that ultimately doomed the Sooners. Spangler stepped to the line for two shots with Oklahoma up three and 1:05 on the clock. Spangler missed the first off the rim and airballed the second, which kept the lead at three.
Jaysean Paige made a jumper on the next possession to cut the Sooner lead to one, Cousins missed a shot to stretch the lead, and Paige hit a jumper with 13 seconds left to give the Mountaineers the lead back, 68-67.
A Jonathan Holton free throw with two seconds left seemingly put the game out of reach with the Mountaineers holding a two point lead and Oklahoma having to beat their full court press to have a shot to win or tie the game. Then Buddy Hield had one of those oft discussed March Moments:
Here's Pt 1 of the WILD Oklahoma vs. West Virginia finish. Buddy Hield goes Steph Curry, then straight to the stands pic.twitter.com/akckoBFOKR— Matt Gasper (@MattGKSNT) March 12, 2016
Except upon further review it was determined that Hield was still touching the ball at the buzzer, the shot didn't count, and the Sooners now take the long ride back to Norman locked in to their 2-seed in next week's NCAA Tournament.
For West Virginia they move on to face a Kansas squad who avoided a Baylor upset earlier in the night. Tomorrow night's action will tip off from the Sprint Center in Kansas City at 5 PM and can be seen on ESPN with Brent Musberger and Fran Fraschilla on the call.