Sooners survive tough battle against VCU to advance to Sweet 16
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Buddy Hield scored 19 of his 36 points in the final eight minutes to help No. 2 seed Oklahoma hold off No. 10 seed VCU 85-81 on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Hield, who didn't score for more than 10 minutes to start the game, made 9 of 12 shots in the second half after going 2 for 8 in the first. The senior guard posted at least 30 points for the 11th time this season.
Jordan Woodard scored 17 points and Isaiah Cousins added 15 for the Sooners (27-7), who advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second straight year.
Melvin Johnson scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half, JeQuan Lewis scored 22 points and Michael Gilmore added 12 for VCU (25-11), which was trying to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since its Final Four run in 2011.
Oklahoma started the game on a 21-7 run despite Hield going scoreless. VCU hit three 3-pointers in a three-minute span to cut the Sooners' lead to 30-25.
Hield sat for the final 4:25 of the first half with two fouls. The Sooners led 32-27 when he went to the bench, but they outscored the Rams 12-4 the rest of the half to lead 44-31 at the break. Hield scored seven points on 2-for-8 shooting in the first half. Lewis scored 13 points in the first half to keep the Rams within range.
Johnson, who struggled in the first half, hit two quick threes at the beginning of the second half to spark the Rams. VCU trimmed Oklahoma's lead to 49-45 before the Sooners regrouped with five straight points by Woodard.
VCU rallied, and two threes by Gilmore put the Rams up 62-61.
VCU led 65-63 when Hield scored eight points in 1:53, including two 3-pointers, to put the Sooners ahead for good.
Oklahoma backup center Akolda Manyang was not available because of a death in the family. A team spokesman said Manyang flew back to Minnesota on Sunday morning. Manyang, a 7-foot junior, averages 2.5 points and 1.4 blocks in 8.0 minutes per game for the Sooners.
VCU: Made just 2 of its first 9 shots. ... Former coach Anthony Grant now is an assistant coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder. ... Outrebounded Oklahoma 24-12 in the second half.
Oklahoma: Khadeem Lattin, who entered the game averaging 5.5 points, scored six in the first 3:07. ... Hield, Cousins, Woodard and Ryan Spangler started together for the 102nd consecutive game. ... Outrebounded VCU 25-13 in the first half. ... Hield scored 27 points in Oklahoma's first-round win over Cal State Bakersfield.