Tahlequah Daily Press

March 6, 2014

Clark, Sooners defeat West Virginia


— NORMAN — Cameron Clark registered a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds in his final game at Lloyd Noble Center, leading No. 23 Oklahoma to a 72-62 victory Wednesday night over West Virginia.

The victory lifted the Sooners to 22-8 overall and 11-6 in the Big 12 with one regular-season game remaining.

Clark was the Sooners’ only consistent source of offense in the first half and helped them overcome a slow start to get an essential win.

“We got the win and that’s all I was really focused on. My teammates told me to be aggressive and that’s all I really did,” Clark said. “I’m just glad I played well.”

The Sooners were greatly appreciative as well. Clark was a major reason they won. They only shot 41.8 percent from the field (23 for 55) and were 6 for 23 from 3-point range midway through the second half.

OU had to claw out of a hole because long distance shots were clanking off the rim.

West Virginia (16-14, 8-9) led, 43-40, with 11 1/2 minutes remaining, was in position to score a late-season upset that would’ve kindled its NCAA tournament hopes.

Then Buddy Hield got hot and that doused the Mountaineers’ fire. The sophomore guard overcame a sluggish first half where he had more turnovers (3) than points (1), erupting for 12 points in the second half. Nine came in a four-possession span when OU erased a three-point deficit and started the run that put the game away.

“All I need is one to go down and I feel like I can make every one afterwards,” Hield said. “The coaching staff and players know once I get one to go down I’m going to shoot the next one, regardless.”

Hield’s shot selection wasn’t erractic. He nailed four — wide open — 3-pointers in 3 1/2 minutes. The last one lifted the Sooners’ lead to 59-50 with a little more than 6 minutes remaining.

West Virginia didn’t recover.

Juwan Staten’s bid for the Big 12 scoring title was rocketed with 24 points. However, he was the Mountaineers’ only dependable source of offense.

Guard Eron Harris, who was averaging 18.0 points when the game began, was limited to 28 minutes on the floor and just five points. He fouled out with two minutes left.

Brandon Williams added 14 points for West Virginia, which shot 42.2 percent (27 for 64), but was just 4 for 13 from 3-point range.

Jelon Hornbeak came off the bench to add 11 points for the Sooners. Four of those came at the free-throw line. There was a huge disparity at the charity stripe with OU going 15 for 20. The Mountaineers: 4 for 10.

Clark checked out with a minute remaining to a standing ovation.

“We kept battling and kept plugging,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “When you can figure out a way to win a Big 12 ballgame, you feel pretty good about it.

“Great to see Cam finish like he did. Great career. To see him have a double-double in his last home game and make big shots when we needed them badly, there are good memories there.”

If the Sooners win on Saturday at TCU, which is 0-17 in the conference, they will secure the No. 2 seed for next week’s Big 12 tournament.