MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A sold-out crowd of over 14,000 Mountaineer fans was juiced up as the West Virginia men’s basketball team earned its largest-ever victory over the Oklahoma Sooners.
WVU coach Bob Huggins was understandably happy with his team’s showing on Saturday, led by a career performance from guard Erik Stevenson. The fifth-year transfer scored 34 points, his second-straight 30-plus game at home after scoring 31 points against Auburn.
Here’s what Huggins had to say after the victory:
On Stevenson’s big game…
It wasn’t hard to predict how Huggins would feel about Stevenson’s offensive explosion.
“Obviously he was really good,” Huggins said. “I think we finally have realized what we need to do to win in this league.”
Stevenson had a hot start, scoring 11 of WVU’s first 15 points. He finished with six 3-pointers in the game — more than the entire Sooners’ lineup.
His impact went beyond his stat line. Huggins spoke before the game about his team’s lack of strong leadership.
On Saturday, Stevenson showed an effort to change that.
“He was great in the huddle with the team,” Huggins said. “Erik can get on them at times. He was great with them, very encouraging with them.”
On WVU’s bounce-back on defense…
The Mountaineers held OU under 40 percent shooting and forced 16 Sooner turnovers, a performance that was a massive improvement over what WVU showed at TCU on Wednesday night.
“We had our moments, but we were way better,” Huggins said. “We could have gone over and played five guys at the rec and been better than we were at TCU.”
That, Huggins said, was because his team knows what it has to do to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
“We’re going to have to win games to get a halfway decent seed in the conference tournament….I think they’re starting to realize that, and particularly, I think guys like Erik, this is it for him….I think they’re starting to realize they don’t want to go through what they went through a year ago,” Huggins said.
On James Okonkwo’s first double-double…
WVU got some good games from bench players, but none of them stole the show more than James Okonkwo. The sophomore recorded 10 points and 10 rebounds, and flushed a series of crowd-jolting dunks that will dot his career highlight reel.
“I think James has made tremendous strides,” Huggins said. “He’s a guy who could end up being a force in college basketball if he continues to improve, if he continues to work at it, if he continues to grow and understand.”
This is especially impressive to the coach because of his non-basketball background.
“You’re talking about a guy who was a tennis player,” Huggins said. “He just continues to get better and better, and I think our other guys have started to understand how talented he is.”