KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Another Oklahoma miracle shot was taken away in heartbreaking fashion vs. West Virginia in the Big 12 tournament Wednesday.
Three years ago, then-senior Buddy Hield’s go-ahead half-court heave didn’t count, because he didn’t release the ball in time.
On Wednesday, there wasn’t a Hield-led celebration in the Sprint Center stands under the assumption OU had just won.
Rather, it was senior Christian James, who nailed a shot before the buzzer that would’ve forced overtime vs. the Mountaineers.
The issue this time, however, was his toe was just enough on the three-point line to overturn the three and give the Mountaineers a 72-71 upset win.
“Same exact s***, different scenario,” James said of the similarities between the 2016 loss to West Virginia and 2019’s.
“S*** hurt, man; it’s my last go-around. [It hurt] not just for me, but for my teammates and my guys. I want them to experience that [a win] next round.”
The tenth-seeded Mountaineers will move on to Thursday and face No. 2-seed Texas Tech. OU, on the other hand, must wait until Sunday to learn its NCAA Tournament fate.
Although, the Sooners weren’t thinking about their postseason chances. They knew had they a chance to inch closer to locking up an at-large bid, but didn’t capitalize.
“It’s not something I’m too worried about,” junior Kristian Doolittle said. “I’ve never paid attention to the outside noise of if we’re in or out. … We had it in our hands to fully seal it and not to leave doubt in anybody’s mind, but now we have to wait for someone else to decide for us.”
Aside from James’ buzzer-beating shot, OU might not have needed it had it won the rebounding battle.
The Mountaineers dominated the Sooners on the boards when they met Feb. 2 in Morgantown, W. Va.
West Virginia grabbed 18 offensive rebounds that day and won 79-71. Then on Wednesday, it brought down 16 rebounds on offense.
“They whipped us,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “They whipped us on critical boards there throughout the game, especially late.”
The Sooners did manage to shoot better than the Mountaineers, hitting 28-of-62 shots (45.2 percent) from the field in the loss.
West Virginia, who shot 27-of-71 (38.0 percent) from the floor, overcame the difference with 17 second-chance points — as well as nine 3-pointers to OU’s four in the game.
“We weren’t the more intense team tonight and it showed on the offensive glass for them,” freshman Jamal Bieniemy said. “That’s something on us as players, and you can’t really be mad at it but ourselves.”
Sophomore Brady Manek scored a game-high 22 points and surpassed 700 career points in the contest.
James finished with 11 points in his last Big 12 tournament appearance, while Doolittle had 18 points and nearly reached a double-double with nine rebounds.
OU will learn its NCAA Tournament fate at 5 p.m. Sunday.
The tournament selection show will air on CBS and online at www.ncaa.com/march-madness-live.