The surging Oklahoma Sooners put a very good Texas A&M team — and their aspirations to make a title run — to bed Thursday evening in Anaheim, CA.
Behind a full serving of Jordan Woodard and a side of Naismith Player of the Year finalist Buddy Hield, the Sooners never gave the Aggies a shot after the opening minutes of the contest, defeating the three-seeded Texas team 77-63 in the West Region’s Sweet 16 matchup.
The game started with the impression that the Aggies came to play, going up 7 behind Jalen Jones’ two three-pointers, but the Sooners would strike back by going on a 19-4 run in the last 7:42 of the first half and forcing the Aggies to miss 19 of their final 23 shots along with 10 first-half turnovers.
Junior guard Jordan Woodard led the way for Oklahoma with 22 points on an impressive 8-11 shooting and was the catalyst to the Sooners’ strong first-half performance.
Senior phenom Buddy Hield continued his magical run with a double-double (17p, 10r) against what many believed would be a tough A&M squad.
Hield now has 80 points through his first three games in the tournament and his double-double Thursday night was the first of his March Madness career.
Oklahoma to the Elite 8 for the 1st time since 2009!— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 25, 2016
Buddy Hield: 17 Pts, 10 Reb.
Hield has 80 Pts in 3 games pic.twitter.com/I98mUXtaHy
The Aggies were led by their senior forward Tyler Davis who dropped 17 points to go along with eight rebounds in a disappointing performance by the 28-9 Aggies.
They were coming off another sub-par performance in which they had to miraculously come back and stun an 11-seeded Northern Iowa team in double-overtime last week, rallying from a 12-point deficit with 44 seconds in regulation.
Thursday’s game against the Sooners could have proven to be more competitive if the Aggies would have hit a few more three-point attempts or converted on their free-throws. They were 6-of-28 from long range and just 13 of 24 from the charity stripe.
Oklahoma on the other hand — behind Woodard’s hot shooting — were able to shoot 49.2 percent from the field, and maintained a large lead throughout the game by holding the Aggies to just 34.2 percent shooting.
The victory comes after Villanova similarly handed a talented Miami Hurricanes team a loss, 92-69, in the opening matchup of this weekend’s Sweet 16 lineup earlier today.
The Sooners now go on to face the winner between the first-seeded Oregon Ducks and fourth-seeded Duke Blue Devils this Saturday in Anaheim. The winner will advance to the Final Four in Houston, TX.
It’s the first time since 2009 that the 28-7 Sooners advance to the Elite Eight. They lost to Michigan State in last year’s Sweet 16 and will look to advance to the Final Four for the first time since 2002 behind the speculative National Player of the Year Buddy Hield.
Many are convinced that Hield has gained the upper edge over Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine for the Wooden award based off both player’s recent play. Valentine and the two-seed Spartans were upset by 15-seed Middle Tennessee State in the first round of this year’s tournament after a poor outing by Valentine, while Hield continues to push his Sooners through the tournament and lead all scorers through three games.
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)