Columbia, SC—In a game where many did not know what would happen, the Oklahoma Sooners pulled off the least expected result, dominating Ole Miss from the opening tip to the final buzzer. The 95-72 victory is the highest scoring NCAA Tournament game for the Sooners since 1989.
Oklahoma did not look like the team we saw in Big 12 play. In fact, the Sooners looked like they were being coached by Billy Tubbs. Oklahoma was efficient and found the open man, allowing for easy baskets. The speed the Sooners played with, especially in the first half looked like a throwback to the Tubbs era.
The 50-point first half was the biggest scoring half for the Sooners since Lon Kruger has been the head coach. However, the scoring was not the only thing the Sooners had going for them.
Oklahoma only turned the ball over three times, a season low. Along with keeping possession, OU shared the rock more, tallying 15 team assists.
Freshman point guard, Jamal Bieniemy showed that he does not need to score to change the game. Bieniemy made sure to fill the box score, chalking up 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals while scoring just 2 points.
Bieniemy was the only Sooner starter that did not put up double-digit points. Christian James and Rashard Odomes shredded the Rebels defense for 20 points each.
Brady Manek looked like “Larry From the Prairie” once again, putting up 18 points on 7 of 9 shooting.
Kristian Doolittle showed the country why he was named Most Improved Player by the Big 12. His 19 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals helped the Sooners do what they wanted from the jump.
The lack of size from Ole Miss is what made guarding the Sooners so difficult. OU ate up the Rebels’ attempts of playing a zone defense, cutting to the hoop and creating mismatches all game.
Oklahoma will take on 1-seed Virginia on Sunday in Columbia, South Carolina. If the Sooners want to see the Sweet Sixteen, they will have to shoot just as well as they did against the Rebels. If there’s anything this Sooners team can do well, it’s surprising people.