Sooners fall to Mountaineers
West Virginia held off a late surge by Oklahoma to earn a 66-55 victory in Norman on Sunday.
NORMAN — Home teams went 1-4 in the Big 12 Saturday.
Oklahoma State won at West Virginia. Kansas State won at Iowa State. Kansas won at Baylor. Texas Tech won at Texas.
Oklahoma’s 76-74 win against TCU at Lloyd Noble Center was the only home victory in the conference.
“And obviously this one could’ve gone the other way too, so yeah, it’s rare for a conference weekend to go like that,” coach Lon Kruger said after OU’s win.
Half of the Big 12 teams, including the Sooners, are 2-2 in conference play.
Texas Tech is the lone undefeated team at 4-0.
“I didn't see much difference the other night between Oklahoma and Tech, and Oklahoma was on the road,” ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla told The Oklahoman.
“I see seven quality teams, and I wouldn't discount Kansas State as the eighth if Dean Wade gets back sometime soon,” Fraschilla said.
“And then we know Oklahoma State and West Virginia, they're not chopped liver. They play really hard. I think it's too early to say who the frontrunners are.”
Wade, the preseason Big 12 Player of the Year, returned from a foot injury Saturday. Wade and the Wildcats head to Norman for a 6 p.m. Wednesday matchup.
McNeace returns to starting lineup
Oklahoma center Jamuni McNeace was back in the starting lineup Saturday for the first time since late November.
McNeace notched six points, six rebounds and two blocks in 22 minutes against the Horned Frogs.
The effects of a right ankle sprain have bothered him for the last month, but the injury might be behind him.
“I thought he played through his tentativeness in the first half, unsure about landing, jumping, whatever,” Kruger said.
“But I thought he got comfortable as the game went on. I thought he did much better in the second half.”
Graduate transfer guard Miles Reynolds moved back to a bench role.
Reserve forward Matt Freeman logged just three minutes against TCU. Freeman, a 38 percent shooter from the 3-point line, has seen his playing time decline to eight minutes per game against Big 12 opponents.
The Sooners came into the weekend ranked sixth nationally in rebounding: 43.1 per game.
Yet TCU obliterated OU on the boards in the first half Saturday. The Horned Frogs held a 30-14 rebounding advantage as the teams jogged to their locker rooms.
Oklahoma reverted to its rebounding ways in the second half, holding a 22-12 edge over TCU.
So what changed? "Mostly just our guys' commitment to it,” Kruger said.
“They've been a very good rebounding team on the year, coming off a Texas Tech game where we gave up three offensive boards in the game. We just had to recommit and do a better job as a group of five rebounding the ball."
Oklahoma ranks second in the country, behind Michigan State, in defensive rebounding.