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Sooners Hold Off West Virginia To Win Home Finale

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NORMAN, Oklahoma -

The Oklahoma Sooners seem to enjoy playing things a little close to the chest.

Wednesday night against West Virginia, the Sooners saw a 17-point first half lead fall to just three points early in the second half before a group of seniors, playing their last game at Lloyd Noble Center, rallied the Sooners to hold off the Mountaineers for an 83-70 win.

Romero Osby scored 26 points to lead the Sooners, while Steven Pledger scored 23 points. They were the only two OU players in double figures.

Eron Harris led West Virginia with 23 points, hitting five 3-pointers to bring the Mountaineers back into the game. Deniz Kilicli added 20 points for WVU.

Late in the game, the Mountaineers had cut a 13-point OU lead to 68-64 on a Kilicli jumper with 5:15 remaining. It appeared as if OU was on the verge of another big collapse, but the senior class wouldn't allow their last game at Lloyd Noble Center to be a loss.

First, Andrew Fitzgerald scored five consecutive points on an and-one and a jumper from the elbow, his only points of the game. Then, following a timeout, Pledger buried a 3-pointer to push the lead back to 12 at 76-64 with 3:25 remaining.

The teams traded baskets over the next two minutes before Pledger put the final nail in the coffin, hitting his fifth 3-pointer of the night for the final margin.

With the win and Oklahoma State's loss against Iowa State, the Sooners are still in play for the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 conference tournament next weekend. If the Cowboys fall at home to Kansas State and the Sooners beat TCU on the road Saturday, Oklahoma will get the No. 3 seed and face Baylor while Oklahoma State will be the No. 4 seed and face Iowa State.

Wednesday night also marked the return of freshman guard Buddy Hield. The vibrant guard was out just 23 days after breaking a bone in his left foot against TCU Feb. 11. Hield was originally supposed to be out 4-6 weeks, but returned just three weeks after surgery.

Hield played four minutes in the first half, entering the game to a rousing ovation from the Lloyd Noble Center crowd at the 10:25 mark of the first half. He didn't play in the second half, a decision made by the OU coaching staff at halftime.

The Sooners started the game on fire, racing out to a 10-1 lead and forcing a West Virginia timeout just three minutes into the game. Oklahoma was efficient from the field, knocking down several 3-pointers and making life miserable for the Mountaineers on the offensive end.

A layup by Osby made the score 25-8 before it seemed like West Virginia was fully engaged in the game.

The Sooners maintained a big lead before Kilicli put the Mountaineers on his broad back, scoring the last 10 points of the half for West Virginia to cut the OU lead to 39-28 at the break.

The Mountaineer run continued in the second half, opening the second 20 minutes with a 13-5 run. WVU cut the OU lead to 44-41 when Aaric Murray nailed a 3-pointer with 15:46 remaining before OU rallied to push the lead back to double figures.

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