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November 25, 2012

Mountaineers fall to Oklahoma

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In an unusual non-conference matchup of conference foes, West Virginia dropped its third game in four tries in the third place game of the Old Spice Classic falling 77 to 70 to Oklahoma Sunday evening.

West Virginia trailed for much of the game, including almost all of the second-half and while the Mountaineers made multiple runs, were unable to take the lead.

The Mountaineers were led is scoring by Juwan Staten with 15 points, while Gary Browne (13) and Deniz Kilicli (13) also reached double figures. Oklahoma was led by Amath M'Baye with 19 points and Je'lon Hornbeak with 14 points.

As a team West Virginia shot 36-percent from the floor and connected on 24-33 from the free throw line.

West Virginia jumped out to an early lead by way of solid guard play from Hinds and Staten, scoring 10 of the Mountaineers first 12-points from the floor, but the Sooners battled back to bring the score to 14-13 at the 12:50 mark.

The Sooners would take their first lead at 15-14 under the 12 minute mark after a pair of missed opportunities by the Mountaineers close to the basket. And Oklahoma extended that lead on a four-point play when Steven Pledger hit the shot and knocked in the free-throw.

The Oklahoma lead would see-saw between three and five points for much of the next few minutes, but an 11-2 run including seven straight points put the deficit at 34-22 with 6:01 left in the first half forcing head coach Bob Huggins to use a timeout.

Keaton Miles hit a face-up three-pointer from the right side of the floor to cut the lead down to single digits, and an Aaric Murray free throw whittled the lead down to 34-26 with 4:38 on the clock.

The Mountaineers would get it back to as close as six, but Oklahoma was able to extend the advantage back out to ten points with some easy baskets. But five straight points from the Mountaineers, including a three-pointer by Browne put the score at 40-35 with just over a minute left and the game would go into halftime at 42-37.

The Mountaineers shot 34.7(10-29) percent from the floor in the first half, getting eight points from Staten, seven from Browne and Miles and six points from Hinds. West Virginia was able to take advantage of the free throw line hitting 14 of their 18 attempts in the half.

Oklahoma, on the other hand, shot 50-percent (17-34) and were led in scoring by M'Baye with 10 points, while Hornbeak added seven more.

Murray got to the basket for the first points of the second half, and then his defense forced a turnover and the Mountaineers were able to cash in on a Deniz Kilicli dunk to cut the lead to only a single point with a little more than a minute gone in the second half.

Kilicli would then being to assert himself more offensively for the Mountaineers getting in the post and hitting baskets close to the rim and forcing his way through contact to cut the lead back to a single possession at 51-48.

West Virginia would close the score to 57-56 on a three by Hinds and a layup by Staten, but were unable to hold on the defensive end as M'Baye would clean up again on the glass to push it back out to three-points.

While they were close at various times throughout the second half, the Mountaineers would finally get over the hump and tie the game at 62-all after a pair of Browne free-throws with 6:32 left in the game.

But as they did throughout the contest, Oklahoma answered with seven straight points to stretch the lead back out. The Mountaineers were able to get that lead back down to within five points at 71-66 with 1:54 remaining putting West Virginia in striking distance, but the Sooners proved to be too much.

Sunday marked the first appearance of senior forward Dominique Rutledge this season and he made his presence known immediately being active on both ends of the floor with an offensive rebound and a drive to the basket, drawing a foul although he failed to hit the free throw.

West Virginia will host Virginia Military Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Mountaineers open Big 12 Conference play against this same Oklahoma team Jan. 5 at the Coliseum.

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