Soon­ers fall to Moun­taineers

The Oklahoman - - SPORTS - Joe Mus­satto jmus­[email protected] ok­la­homan.com

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.

Re­bound­ing re­venge

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.

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