MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - It was less than two weeks ago, after a loss at Oklahoma State, that Eron Harris stood outside a moribund West Virginia locker room and lamented that he had felt better about his shot that afternoon than at perhaps any time during his career.
It was bittersweet that day because while Harris was on fire - he made six of his seven 3-point attempts and was virtually indefensible - he played just 21 minutes because of foul trouble and simply wasn't on the floor enough to make a difference. West Virginia lost 81-75.
Now fast-forward to Wednesday night at the Coliseum. Harris wasn't as accurate from start to finish, actually missing more (seven) of his 3-point attempts than he made (six). But when it mattered most, at the end of regulation and then in overtime against No. 21 Oklahoma, he was unstoppable again. First he fired in a 3 with 20 seconds to play to send the game into overtime, then threw in two more rainmakers to get the Mountaineers started in overtime.
And so, after West Virginia had survived and finally vanquished the Sooners 91-86 - WVU's first win over a Top 25 team in 17 tries and more than two full years - Harris was asked if while he was raining those 3s he had a similar feeling to the game in Stillwater. No one in the weather-reduced crowd of 7,538 would have doubted it.
"You know, I really didn't,'' the sophomore guard said. "In fact, half my shots [down the stretch] felt like they weren't going in.''
Well, whether Harris had that feeling or not, he still managed to get the job done. He finished with 28 points - all but two in the second half and overtime - and as a result the Mountaineers now find themselves on arguably their best roll since joining the Big 12.
The win was the third in a row for West Virginia (14-9, 6-4 Big 12) following victories over Baylor and Kansas State. The Mountaineers next face an even more daunting task with a Saturday game at No. 8 Kansas.
Oklahoma (17-6, 6-4) lost for the second time in a row after winning four straight to move up into the Top 25.
In beating the Sooners, West Virginia followed a rather strange formula. The Mountaineers found themselves in so much foul trouble in the first half that they were down to just five players when four, including Harris, sat down for most of the final 12 minutes before the break. Yet despite that, they managed to build a 12-point lead.
In the second half, the lead ballooned to 14 before Oklahoma began chipping away and took a three-point lead into the final minute.
That's when Harris came to the rescue the first time, making a clutch 3-pointer over 6-foot-8 Ryan Spangler with 20 seconds to play to send it to overtime.
"We didn't get him as open as we wanted to get him,'' Bob Huggins said. "He made a hard shot.''
It was a shot Harris didn't want to take.
"I shot it because I had to shoot it,'' he said. "The play was for me because I was making shots, but I didn't feel good about it.''
When Harris added two more long 3s early in the overtime, West Virginia had the lead. Oklahoma tied it for a final time at 84 when Harris' final 3 gave the Mountaineers the lead for good with 21/2 minutes to play. A combination of Juwan Staten's jump shot just inside the free throw line, free throws and defense helped stave off the Sooners. Freshman Devin Williams' strip of a rebound from OU's Tyler Neal with 36 seconds was also a huge play down the stretch.
Both teams dealt with foul trouble - 50 fouls were called and 62 free throws attempted - but at least for Oklahoma that might not have been the most disturbing part of the game. The Sooners had issues even before the game began.
OU's travel party left Norman Tuesday evening, but didn't make it to the Coliseum until less than 90 minutes before tipoff. The team was stranded in New Jersey Tuesday night after its flight was diverted from Clarksburg, then encountered more travel issues Wednesday. The team's plane landed in Clarksburg only a couple of hours before the game and still had to bus to Morgantown.
Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger, though, wasn't using that as an excuse.
"I didn't see that affecting them,'' Kruger said. "These guys are young and they love to play.''
In addition to Harris' 28 points, Staten added 20 points, 10 rebounds and six assists and Terry Henderson had 17 points. For Oklahoma, freshman point guard Jordan Woodard was magnificent with 23 points and eight assists.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.
WEST VIRGINIA 91, OKLAHOMA 86, OT
Oklahoma (17-6, 6-4)
Player M FG FT R A P
Spangler 30 3-7 4-5 9 0 10
Woodard 39 8-11 7-8 4 8 23