Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield used to make his own backboards and rims out of wood pulled off houses, milk crates and bicycle rims growing up in the Bahamas. He loved the game and he wasn’t going to let a little thing like not having a basket stop him from playing and practicing.
All of those long hours spent on the dusty courts of his youth helped lead Oklahoma back to the Final Four for the first time since 2002 on Saturday. Hield let his shot go with confidence – that ridiculous confidence that has made him a national player of the year frontrunner. He scored 37 points – tying Stacey King's school record for points scored in an NCAA tournament game – to lead the Sooners to a much-easier-than-expected 80-68 win over Oregon in the West Regional final of the NCAA tournament.
Oregon won the Pac-12 regular season and tournament titles to earn the first No. 1 seed in the program’s history and looked the part until the Ducks found themselves on the court with the second-seeded Sooners on Saturday.
Oklahoma took charge from the start and Oregon never held the lead. The Sooners raced to a 15-7 lead and didn’t look back. Hield hit a 3-point shot in the first minute. It served as a sign of what was to come. Hield connected on 13 of his 20 shots, often inspiring reactions of disbelief from both fanbases because of how far out he chose to unleash some of them and how smoothly they fell through the nets.
The Sooners knocked down 12 of 24 3-pointers in the game and eight came from Hield. Oklahoma dominated the first half and found themselves leading by 18 at the break. Oregon made runs but wasn’t able to seriously test the experienced Sooners and make them nervous.
Elgin Cook led the Ducks with 24 points and served notice early that he wouldn’t allow the Sooners to drive to the basket easily. But the Sooners simply shot over him.
Hield’s backcourt mates Jordan Woodard and Isaiah Cousins did plenty to complement Hield’s performance as Woodard scored 13 points and Cousins scored 11 with seven assists.
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