On This Day in OU Hoops History: Hield, Sooners fall to Villanova in historic fashion

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.

APRIL 2, 2016

(2) Villanova 95, (2) Oklahoma 51

Of all the ignominious moments in Sooner history, and of all the crimson and cream memories worth suppressing, this day in 2016 nears the top of the list.

A transcendent season for Lon Kruger's bunch would crash and burn in epic fashion.

Call it an egregious fluke, an unfortunate throw of the dice, or a diabolical alignment of stars. Whatever the case, Buddy Hield and Oklahoma took the worst shellacking ever doled out in Final Four play, as Villanova wiped the floor with the Sooners at NRG Stadium by a score of 95-51.

It's still hard to imagine as extreme a discrepancy in two teams' overall performance on any given night, let alone in a national semifinal. It stands as one of the most stunning and unforeseen outcomes in recent memory across all college sports.

While ‘Nova shot the lights out, OU couldn’t find the bottom of the net. The Wildcats had one of the most efficient and prolific games in tournament history, as they hit an astonishing 71 percent of their shot attempts and had just five second-half misses. Meanwhile, as Villanova poured in bucket after bucket entirely unabated, the Sooners went an atrocious 19-of-60 from the floor (a clip of 31 percent).

Hield’s collegiate career ended with an uncharacteristic 4-for-12 performance from the field. He shot 1-for-8 from deep and finished the night with just nine points. The Sooners’ leading scorer was Jordan Woodard, who registered 12 points on 3-of-10 shooting.

"That was just one of those nights," said ‘Nova head coach Jay Wright. "I feel bad for Oklahoma."

Sure, there was an element of randomness to the evening’s sequence of events. Oklahoma boasted a phenomenal offense, led by the country’s best scorer. No one could have predicted that Villanova would unleash an offensive avalanche as Hield and the Sooners imploded. Nevertheless, OU didn’t do themselves any favors - they committed 20 fouls to the Wildcats’ 11, turned the ball over 17 times, and managed just eight total assists.

The resounding loss left the Sooners searching for answers after the game. 

“Hard to explain,” said Lon Kruger.

"They just played terrific tonight,” said Hield.

Oklahoma had beaten Villanova 78-55 earlier in the season in a neutral-court showdown. It wasn’t as if the Sooners were overmatched. 

But the Wildcats had the magic on this night, and they’d carry it over to the national championship. Barely 48 hours later, Kris Jenkins would hit arguably the most iconic shot in March Madness history, lifting Villanova to their first national title in 31 years with a dramatic buzzer-beater from well beyond the arc.

Jay Wright’s team escaped North Carolina 78-75, and reigned supreme over the college basketball landscape.

And thus, Oklahoma’s quest for a long-awaited March Madness title wears on.

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