If you had asked me before Saturday’s game what the likelihood was of Villanova exacting the worst beating in Final Four history on Oklahoma, I probably would have put the odds below 1 percent. That can happen when a team shoots better than 70 percent for the game, though.
Before we get into the minutiae of what happened in the Wildcats’ 95-51 win, take a second to appreciate that. Sure, the Sooners’ effort waned in the second half when things became academic. That led to some easy looks for VU. The ‘Cats were still scorching from the start, hitting 67 percent of their shots in the first half.
Even if OU had played a clean game, no team outside the NBA would have beaten ‘Nova on this night.
That’s the 10,000-foot view. A few more thoughts on the game:
*Josh Hart played the game of his life, hitting 10 of 12 shots for 23 points. He also grabbed 8 rebounds and tallied 4 assists – a complete performance by the ’Nova swingman.
Hart typifies the Villanova roster. Rather than trying to fit players into specific roles or specializations, Jay Wright has stocked his team with well-rounded players who can do a variety of things on the floor and handle overlapping responsibilities.
It’s a collection of solid basketball players – not a ball handler here or an outside shooter over there or a defensive stopper there.
*Hart’s dagger of a three at the end of the first half and deep fadeaway midway through the second half summed up this contest.
*Buddy Hield’s 9 points will dominate much of the talk in the aftermath of this game. To be fair, the Wildcats concentrated on stopping the national player of the year and left Hield’s teammates with plenty of opportunities to do some damage. OU couldn’t take advantage of it:
- Hield backcourt mates Jordan Woodard and Isaiah Cousins combined to hit 6 of 24 shots.
- Center Khadeem Lattin was 1 of 4 from the floor.
- Reserve Dinjiyl Walker missed all 4 of his shot attempts in just 8 minutes of action.
In other words, blame for this loss shouldn’t fall on the shoulders of any one player. (True of any loss, or win, to be honest.)
*Not the best night for the OU big men, particularly on the defensive end of the floor.
They allowed ‘Nova center Daniel Ochefu to clean up inside as he hit 4 of 5 attempts. When the Wildcats’ guards ventured into the lane, they didn’t meet much resistance, either. For the game, VU had a 38-20 edge in points in the paint.
*I joked before the game that I couldn't lose as a fan. I was wrong. I feel terrible for OU.
Late in the game, OU beat reporter Guerin Emig made a wise observation about the Sooners’ season:
It’s very easy to let the final game of a season color your entire view of team, especially in the moment. The barrage of snark from the peanut gallery doesn’t help. (I’m certainly not blameless on that part when it comes to games in which I have no rooting interest.)
Your prerogative how you want to look at it, but this team had a great season. They played in a lot of great games, and they won a bunch of them. Buddy Hield had one of the most memorable individual seasons of any college basketball player of my lifetime. Unlike more than 300 other programs, they made the Final Four.
No matter how the year ended, the Sooners had a great run.