AP Sports Writer
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Buddy Hield helped get No. 3 Oklahoma out of a temporary lull.
The nation’s second-leading scorer had 29 points to lead the Sooners to a 76-62 victory over No. 10 West Virginia on Saturday.
Oklahoma (21-5, 9-5) stayed close in the Big 12 race, tying the Mountaineers and Baylor for second place behind Kansas. The Sooners were coming off consecutive losses to Kansas and Texas Tech and three losses in four games after spending three weeks at No. 1.
In a second half of several scoring swings, Hield helped put Oklahoma in control. He capped a 9-0 run with a 3-pointer to put the Sooners ahead 61-52 with 5:22 left, silencing the home crowd.
“For the past few weeks we’ve been struggling,” Hield said. “Coach (Lon Kruger) got on us. Everybody wanted to come to West Virginia and prove something.
“You look at the tape from the Texas Tech and Kansas game, we didn’t have fun competing. This game, we really had fun.”
Kruger isn’t sure whether Oklahoma can make up enough ground in the league race with four games to play. The Sooners were already swept by Kansas.
“Every game is important when you’re a couple of games behind as we are,” Kruger said. “We’re coming up on March and we may be too far back now. But still, we can’t do anything about last week. We’ve got to do what we can to take care of business moving forward. Last two weeks of conference play coming up and every one of them is going to be really tough.”
Jaysean Paige scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half for West Virginia (20-7, 9-5), but the Mountaineers couldn’t answer with their own decisive run.
Hield often got ahead of West Virginia’s defense for layups, and nifty passing in the halfcourt enabled him to get open outside for shots. He made five 3-pointers to give him 109 this season, breaking the school record of 105 set by Nate Erdmann in 1997.
Isaiah Cousins added 12 points and Jordan Woodard had 11 for the Sooners.
Tarik Phillip had 17 points for the Mountaineers, who were alone in first place two weeks ago and have lost three of four.
After leading only briefly in the first half, West Virginia scored 11 points in the first 2 minutes of the second half to grab the lead, only to see the Sooners go on a 17-4 run.
West Virginia put together its final burst behind Paige, who made four free throws, a fadeaway jumper and a fast-break layup to knot the score at 52-all with 7:48 left.
But the Mountaineers went nearly 4 minutes until their next basket.
“They made more shots than we made,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “They’ve got Buddy Hield and we don’t.”
Oklahoma: The Sooners had nine blocked shots. … They improved to 6-3 this season against ranked teams. … Oklahoma swept the regular-season series after beating the Mountaineers 70-68 on Jan. 16 in Norman, Oklahoma.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers forced nine turnovers, half their season average of more than 18 per game. … West Virginia shot 33 percent (21 of 63) from the field and was outrebounded 48-37.
West Virginia guard Daxter Miles Jr. missed his second straight game with a strained right hamstring. He is listed as day-to-day. Teyvon Myers again started in his place. Huggins said after the game he had no timetable on Miles’ return.
A statue of “Hot Rod” Hundley was unveiled outside of West Virginia’s arena before the game near a statue of another former Mountaineer great, Jerry West. Hundley averaged 24.5 points per game at WVU from 1955-57. A former NBA player who broadcast Jazz games in New Orleans and Utah for 35 years, Hundley died last March at age 80.
Oklahoma: Hosts Oklahoma State on Wednesday.
West Virginia: Hosts No. 13 Iowa State on Monday.