What Buddy Hield did to the VCU Rams over the weekend was a common theme for the Sweet 16 bound Oklahoma Sooners (27-7). He makes the spectacular plays look routine. Hield, the soon to be national player of the year, is averaging 25.4 points, and 5.6 rebounds in his senior season. According to Yahoo Sports, Hield was the second best player in this years tournament. However, he was not having one of his vintage first halves in the round of 32.
In addition to Hield’s offensive struggles, foul trouble plagued the All-American guard against the Rams. Hield was shooting 2/8 from the field, scoring seven points, before picking up his second foul with 4:26 left in the first half.. It took him more than 10 minutes to breakthrough in the scoring column, and his first 3-pointer of the game gave the Sooners a 28-17 lead.
By halftime, the Sooners pushed the lead to 13, and the supporting cast had their MVP’s back. Hield had no problem reciprocating the love in the second half. Of course, VCU used one of their patented runs to get back in the game. Could it be the Sooners were playing better without Hield as the focal point?
Midway through the second half, the Rams stormed back to take a 62-61 lead. However, the Sooners didn’t panic. If it wasn’t for previous performances, Hield may have had the performance of a lifetime. In the final eight minutes, Hield scored 19 points, holding off the Rams at every turn. Overall, he scored 26 of the final 29 points for the Sooners, giving them an 85-81 victory, and a spot in the Sweet 16. Otherwise, another expected performance by the NCAA tournament’s most lethal scorer.
He produced 36 points in 36 minutes, shooting 11/20 from the field. He also made 6 of 14 shots from 3-point range, while grabbing seven rebounds. This season he’s had 11 30-point games. And don’t worry about the one-man show. The Sooners are (9-2) in those games. Why? Hield can be dominant without becoming ball dominant.
Hield is not just a high volume shooter, he’s as efficient as any player in the country. He’s connecting on 50 percent of his field goal attempts, and shooting 46 percent from 3-point range. Most nights, his dominance is on display, and the Sooners need it to continue if they plan on making their first Final Four since 2002.
The Sooners are averaging 83.5 points in two NCAA Tournament games. They face an opponent that’s done well to limit the 3-point shot. On the season, the Texas A&M Aggies hold teams to 33 percent shooting from beyond the arc. However, they were almost buried by the three in the last game. During their improbable 92-88 win over Northern Iowa, the Aggies gave up 12 of 34 3-point attempts.
Hield has taken double digit 3-pointers in 11 games this season. His ability to rise up and shoot over the defense should be a problem for the Aggies. Even when you think you have him in check, Oklahoma’s favorite buddy can decimate your defensive principles.
If the Sooners move onto the Elite 8, expect Hield to have another Ho-hum performance.