OU men's basketball: Sooners beat West Virginia with strong performance of Kristian Doolittle
NORMAN — Kristian Doolittle found himself wide open at the top of the arc when De’Vion Harmon passed him the ball.
He knocked down the 3-pointer, in the first of what would be many electrifying moments for OU on Saturday.
After the shot went in, Doolittle spun around, jumped in the air and let out a yell, clapping his hands twice as he ran back on defense.
It was one of many moments of joy for the senior forward in OU’s 69-59 win over No. 13-ranked West Virginia for the Sooners' first win over a ranked team this season.
The Sooners (15-8, 5-5 Big 12) had several things going their way Saturday, but most important was the resurgence of Doolittle.
Doolittle’s 27 points made for his second-best scoring performance this season and snapped the senior’s scoring slump. Doolittle hadn’t scored in double digit in the past five games and hadn’t scored more than 20 points since Jan. 8 against Texas. He also added 12 rebounds to record his sixth career 20-point double double.
“I feel like I was in my head the past few games,” Doolittle said. “But you know the confidence that the coaching staff and my teammates instill in me, I was able to come out here with a fresh mind.”
The Edmond native was trying to play with confidence, shoot whenever he was open and have a next-shot mentality whether he made it or not. OU needed the boost it got from Doolittle with his teammates shooting a combined 13-for-34 from the field.
“They've been making progress and big steps,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “They were close at Baylor and close at (Texas) Tech. And yet to beat a club like this, it was the next step. They figured it out today and made a lot of good plays for each other. I couldn't be more proud of them. They battled like crazy.”
The Sooners’ efforts were helped by a poor shooting performance from West Virginia (18-5, 6-4 Big 12). The Mountaineers took 27 more shots than the Sooners and finished shooting a season-low 31.6 percent from the field.
"We missed 22 shots within two feet of the basket,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “Seems impossible, but we missed 22 shots within two feet of the basket."
The Sooners out-rebounded the Mountaineers 42-41, with OU grabbing 33 defensive rebounds. Those rebounds gave OU some fastbreak opportunities.
Sophomore guard Jamal Bieniemy grabbed a rebound with under 16 minutes left in the second half. He threw a long pass up the court to Doolittle who dribbled before being stopped by West Virginia’s Emmitt Matthews Jr. Doolittle spun to the other side of Matthews and threw the ball up for a layup. Matthews was called for a foul, and Doolittle made a free throw to put the Sooners up by 11 in the middle of a 10-0 run.
After Doolittle made the layup, his teammates were fired up, hugging and high-fiving him. The points Doolittle scored were important, but the energy he gave OU on the court mattered just as much.
“It's a lot more fun when you are making shots when you play,” Doolittle said. “I'm glad I was able to produce for my team today.”
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