MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia sought to prove itself as an NCAA Tournament team. While it still has some work to do, they made quite the statement with a 93-61 victory over Oklahoma.
Erik Stevenson headlined a night of career games for the Mountaineers with a career-high 34 points, his second straight 30-plus point game inside the WVU Coliseum. The fifth-year senior knocked down six 3-pointers in the victory, more than the whole Sooner lineup.
“Obviously, he was really good,” said WVU coach Bob Huggins. “I think we finally have realized what we need to do to win in this league.”
His performance marked the first time a Mountaineer hooper recorded back-to-back 30-plus point games at the Coliseum since Greg Jones had a pair of big games against UNLV and Saint Joseph’s separated by a road trip.
Stevenson started hot for the Mountaineers, scoring 11 of their first 15 points to give his team an early lead. By halftime, he had racked up 23 points while his team had a 26-point lead.
“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” said guard Kedrian Johnson. “So I kept giving it to him.”
Johnson logged three assists in the game, but he made Stevenson’s job easier by attacking the rim. He added 16 points as WVU’s second-leading scorer, eight of which came from the charity stripe.
The guard drew six of Oklahoma’s 26 fouls, a stat which made a significant momentum swing in the game.
The Sooners struggled with foul trouble early in the first half. Starting forward Tanner Groves was severely limited on the floor when he picked up two fouls in the first two minutes of the game. He exited the game with over eight minutes left in the contest with five fouls, one of three Sooners that fouled out.
Grant Sherfield added 16 points as one of two Sooners in double figures. Joe Bamisile was the other, chipping in 11.
WVU’s defense stifled the Sooner offense as the visitors made 37 percent of their shots. Oklahoma also struggled with its free throws, shooting 12-for-22 from the line.
Stevenson’s big game was one of several by individual Mountaineers. James Okonkwo logged his first career double-double, slamming a few crowd-raising dunks and a pair of alley-oops. Seth Wilson added a pair of 3-pointers as part of his nine points.
“I think James has made tremendous strides,” Huggins said. “He’s a guy who could end up being a force in college basketball if he continues to improve, if he continues to work at it, if he continues to grow and understand.”
West Virginia earns its 14th win of the season as it aims to rack up 18 for its NCAA Tournament resume.
The Mountaineers return to the court on Wednesday when they host No. 13 Iowa State. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. ET.