Buddy Hield put on a performance in the second half of Sunday’s second round matchup between the West region’s second-seeded Oklahoma Sooners and tenth seed VCU Rams that showed the nation why many believe he will be crowned the honor of national player of the year.
Hield dropped 29 of his game-high 36 points, including five three-pointers, in the second half of Sunday’s 85-81 win against VCU in Sunday’s second round matchup, which was pretty much a home game for the Sooners with the game being played at Chesapeake Energy Arena, home of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Rams were able to force Hield into early foul trouble and just 7 points in the first half, but that aggressive style of defense that saw them shock the West Virginia Mountaineers on Thursday was now being pinned against their own shooters.
The Sooners defense was able to lock in on VCU’s shooters early and often, building a a 13-point lead going into the half, despite their star (Hield) being a non-factor.
VCU was able to make runs that drew them within striking distance behind strong performances from Melvin Johnson (23 points) and speedy guard Jequan Lewis, who seemed to get to the basket at will and contributed 22 points of his own, but Hield proved to be too much for Virginia Commonwealth.
The six-foot, four-inch senior guard from Freeport, scored 26 of the Sooners final 31 points. It didn’t matter who was guarding him, Hield was not going to be denied and allow another upset to take place in a tournament that has seen its good share of upsets, at his teams expense.
In the closing minutes of the game, the crowd began to chant “Buddy! Buddy!,” as the Senior guard played his final collegiate game in Oklahoma and provided them with the perfect parting gift.
Hield averaged 25.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists during the course of the regular season that saw the Sooners go 27-7 in the Big 12 conference and, as mentioned, is considered a lock for the national player of the year award.
He is currently averaging 31.5 points per game during this year’s tournament and will look to lead his Sooners all the way to Houston and his school’s first National Championship.
The win now pushes Hield and the Oklahoma Sooners into the sweet 16 next week in Anaheim, California, for the second consecutive year and the 11th time in school history.
They’ll face their former Big 12 conference foe Texas A&M, who performed a miraculous comeback against Northern Iowa to stun the Panthers in double overtime. The panthers had a 12 point lead with only 44 seconds left and the Aggies staged a comeback for the ages.
The 26-8 Texas A&M Aggies have had a strong season themselves despite a loss to a young Kentucky team in the SEC championship game. They landed a third seed in the West region and will go on to give fans an epic matchup in Anaheim versus Hield and the Sooners.
Twelve of the 16 teams have already earned their bid to next weeks sweet 16, the match-ups so far are as follows.
No. 1 Kansas vs No. 5 Maryland (March 24)
No. 3 Miami (Fl.) vs No. 2 Villanova (March 24)
No. 4 Duke vs No. 1 Oregon/No. 8 Saint Joseph’s (Marsh 24)
No. 2 Oklahoma vs No. 3 Texas A&M (March 24)
No. 11 Gonzaga vs No. 10 Syracuse (March 25)
No. 1 Virginia vs No. 4 Iowa State (March 25)
No. 6 Notre Dame vs No. 7 Wisconsin (March 25)
No. 1 North Carolina vs No. 5 Indiana (March 25)
[AP Photo/Alonzo Adams]