Rushed Reactions: #2 Villanova 95, #2 Oklahoma 51

Posted by nvr1983 on April 2nd, 2016

RTC is providing wall-to-wall coverage of the NCAA Tournament again this season. Make sure to follow us @rushthecourt throughout Final Four weekend. 

Three Key Takeaways:

Villanova Put Together the Most Dominant Final Four Victory in History (USA Today Images)

Villanova Put Together the Most Dominant Final Four Victory in History (USA Today Images)

  1. This wasn’t going to be a repeat of the December 7 blowout. Any reasonable observer knew not to take too much from Oklahoma’s 23-point win in Pearl Harbor. In that game, Villanova shot an atrocious 4-of-32 from three in a performance that was so bad that even Kobe Bryant would have told them to stop shooting. Tonight they put on a performance that would have made Steph Curry blush. They went 35-0f-49 from the field (71.4%) including 11-of-18 from three (61.1%) while Oklahoma could only muster 19-of-60 (31.7%) and 6-of-27 from three (22.2%). All those numbers led to a record margin of victory in the Final Four (44 points) and the biggest difference in a rematch outcome this millennium (67 points).
  2. Tonight was not Buddy Hield’s night. The RTC NPOY shot only 4-of-12 including 1-of-8 from three-point range for nine quiet points along with just two assists (to his credit he did have seven rebounds). People will point to the dome effect in Houston as a factor, but it’s hard to use that as a crutch when Villanova shot the lights out in the same environment. In the end, this is just what sometimes happens in a single-elimination tournament. Even the best players have bad nights. Unfortunately for Hield, none of the other Sooners stepped up to counter the Wildcats’ performance for the ages. This game shouldn’t (and hopefully doesn’t) diminish what Hield has accomplished in his four years in Norman, nor should it lead to a conversation about the limits of his NBA future. Just take some time to appreciate what he has done for the Oklahoma program and how he conducted himself both on and off the court.
  3. Villanova was relentless. The tenor of the game was a bit unusual. Oklahoma only led for 3:42 with their biggest lead coming just 23 seconds into the game on Hield’s only made three-pointer of the night. After that, it was a series of runs by Villanova that put the game out of reach. The runs weren’t what you saw in some other historic Final Four blowouts like UNLV’s 30-point victory over Duke in 1990; rather, the Wildcats were more methodical in their dismantling of Oklahoma. In the end, Villanova crushed Oklahoma’s spirit, which is not something we expected from such a senior-laden squad.

Star of the Game. Josh Hart. Much like the rest of the Wildcats, Hart was ruthlessly efficient scoring 23 points on 10 of 12 shooting and adding 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals with no turnovers. Hart is Villanova’s star, but was widely overlooked this season when the postseason awards and honors were handed out. Now he may get the last word.


The Agony of Defeat is the Forgotten Side (USA Today Images)

The Agony of Defeat is the Forgotten Side (USA Today Images)

  • “They changed the culture of basketball at the University of Oklahoma” – Lon Kruger, on his senior class.
  • “It was kind of similar to our game in Hawaii where they made everything” – Jay Wright, on the scorching performance from his Wildcats.
  • “I didn’t even know he was here” – Josh Hart, when asked about the impact of Vice President Joe Biden being at the game

Sights & Sounds.

  • The most noticeable thing about the first semifinal was the lack of intensity — not just from the Sooners, but also the crowd. Maybe we were expecting too much after last year’s spectacular Final Four in Indianapolis, but this year fan involvement felt lackluster even from the beginning. Perhaps it was a somewhat late-arriving crowd given the long commute from downtown to NRG, and obviously the game didn’t lend itself to an intense atmosphere, but in the end, the crowd seemed as stunned as the Sooners were.
  • The biggest takeaway tonight was the looks on the faces of the Oklahoma seniors as they sat to answer questions at the postgame press conference. Hield made eye contact with the crowd; Isaiah Cousins seemed to be staring off into space; and Ryan Spangler could barely even look up from the dais. For all the joy teams have after winning games, this is the other more difficult side that is often overlooked.

What’s Next? Outside of the obvious (Monday night’s national championship game), this is a chance for Villanova to win its second national title and for Jay Wright to cement his place among the top coaches in the sport. By now everybody already considers Wright one of the better coaches around, but a national title puts him on another echelon. It would also put an end to any questions about Villanova’s program under his direction (if they haven’t already been erased) after several years of early NCAA Tournament exits.

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One response to “Rushed Reactions: #2 Villanova 95, #2 Oklahoma 51”

  1. 160by2 login says:

    Keep the hate coming. Keep doubting. Between the “great” folks at ESPN and the Chuckle Head who mumbles so badly you wonder if he is slightly drugged (including his renditon of Pina Colada), it is getting really old. Winningest D1 Men’s Program since 2013 and they mention “luck” as the reason for the game ending as it did.

    I won’t talk trash because it has a bad way of biting you on the booty… Play ball. Play fair. And as long as they give their best, that’s all we can ask for. Villanova Pride!

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