On This Day in OU Hoops History: 2009 Sooners run into a buzzsaw, fall to North Carolina in Elite Eight

Parker Thune

Oklahoma’s 2020 college basketball season came to an unceremonious and premature end when the NCAA declared this year’s tournament would not be played due to measures intended to stop the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Sooners just might have assembled the kind of team — a Big Three scoring triumvirate and a collection of young, athletic talent — that could have possibly made a good postseason run.

This team’s resume will always be incomplete.

Instead of using three weeks this spring to witness OU basketball history, SI Sooners will relive it. From now until April 4 — the date that was supposed to be this year’s Final Four semifinals — we’ll look back on Oklahoma’s most memorable NCAA Tournament games from that date in history.

MARCH 29, 2009

(1) North Carolina 72, (2) Oklahoma 60

Over the course of the 2008-09 season, Blake Griffin was by many accounts the biggest matchup nightmare in the country.

But on this day eleven years ago, not even Griffin’s usual brilliant efforts could help Oklahoma stave off elimination in Memphis. Up against a North Carolina team that would eventually send all five starters to the pros, the Sooners were outmatched and outflanked.

Griffin posted 23 points and 16 rebounds, but couldn’t get the support he needed from the rest of the crimson and cream cast. Oklahoma shot just 2-for-19 from three-point range as the Tar Heels led wire-to-wire in a 72-60 victory.

In a game that many viewed as a showdown between the nation’s top two low post players, Griffin thoroughly outplayed Tyler Hansbrough, the defending AP Player of the Year. Hansbrough surprisingly took a backseat on the offensive end of the court for UNC, as he logged just eight points and six rebounds. However, his presence in the interior opened up outside shots for Tar Heel guards Danny Green and Ty Lawson. Green posted 18 points, Lawson recorded 19, and the two combined for just a single turnover.

After pouring in a career-high 28 points in the Sooners’ Sweet 16 win over Syracuse, junior Tony Crocker turned invisible. The sharpshooter went 2-for-8 from the field and missed all five of his three-point attempts on the day. The only Sooners to record more than four points were Griffin, Willie Warren (18) and Juan Pattillo (9).

"We fully believed we were going to win this basketball game today, but this is how life is sometimes. It doesn't happen the way you want it," said Sooners coach Jeff Capel. "I thought the game would've been a lot more interesting if we could've made some shots, but I thought we had some really good looks."

The Sooners finished the season with 30 wins, and Griffin was named national player of the year. But alas, Oklahoma wouldn’t cut down the nets, and UNC eventually claimed the national championship with a win over Michigan State.

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Men's Basketball