It has been a really remarkable season for Oklahoma, maybe one bested by only a small handful of others in the program’s history. The Sooners have made the Final Four for the first time since 2002 and have now made four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
After an unbeaten non-conference schedule, Oklahoma finished third in the Big 12 Conference and earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament – its highest seed since 2009.
There were plenty of great moments that made this season special. Sooners Illustrated counts down the top 10. Let’s get it started:
10. Dante Buford's half-court 3-pointer to beat the shot block against Iowa State
It didn’t win a game nor did it even come in a victory, but as far as simple shots go, it might have been the most impressive of the season. Buddy Hield hit a lot of big 3s, but Buford’s half-court jumper was pretty amazing to watch.
9. Oklahoma extends its winning streak vs. Oklahoma State
Behind a career-high 26 points from Oklahoma-born forward Ryan Spangler, the Sooners stretched their win streak against their Bedlam rival to six games. This season class graduates having lost just one game to the Cowboys.
8. Lattin’s tip-in for the win vs. West Virginia
One game after Khadeem Lattin missed a game-winning free throw in the final second against Kansas, he redeemed himself with a game-winning put-back against West Virginia. Jordan Woodard missed at the rim, and no one kept Lattin from the ball as Oklahoma secured a spot as the No. 1 team in the country.
7. Hawaii romp of Villanova
It meant very little outside of a ton of confidence for Oklahoma to meet up with then-No. 6 Villanova and win by 23 points on a neutral court. Everything was firing for the Sooners, and it was this game that had Oklahoma fans and the nation thinking the Sooners could be headed to the Final Four.
6. Woodard hits 6 straight 3s early in the season against Central Arkansas
Last season, Woodard hit just 17 3-pointers. He’s likely to make as many 3s this year as he attempted last season. A barrage against Central Arkansas was the start. Woodard hit six-straight 3-pointers in less than four minutes and proved that Oklahoma had another complimentary piece to Buddy Hield. Woodard matched a career-high with 24 points, and the Sooners eclipsed the 100-point mark in regulation for the only time this season.
5. Hield’s winning 3-pointer vs. Texas
Oklahoma came into the game having won four-straight against the Longhorns, but Texas seemed ready to pull the upset. Buford drew an offensive foul, and Hield sank a pull-up 3-pointer from the left wing with 1.3 seconds left to hold off Texas. It wound up being a big win because Oklahoma would lose three of four during this stretch in February.
4. Beating the WVU press in Morgantown
Oklahoma’s biggest road win nearly came against Kansas, and the Sooners were just minutes away from being Iowa State in Hilton Coliseum. Instead, when Oklahoma needed a big road win, it came against West Virginia, which was ranked 11th in the country at the time. Oklahoma turned the ball over just nine times – the fewest turnovers forced by the Mountaineers all season.
3. Isaiah Cousins’ pull-up jumper to beat LSU
In a highly billed match-up between Buddy Hield and Ben Simmons, it was Cousins who got the last laugh. Hield tied a career-high with eight 3-pointers, but Cousins used Hield as a distraction on the final possession to hit a pull-up jumper from the elbow and send Oklahoma back to Norman as winners. Lattin made a game-sealing block on the other end to secure the victory as time expired.
2. Hield takes over in the postseason
Because we didn’t want the top five to all be Hield highlights, No. 2 goes to Buddy in the postseason. Hield scored a career-high in regulation of 39 points against Iowa State – the second-most ever in the Big 12 Championship. He then matched an Oklahoma NCAA Tournament record with 36 points against VCU. A week later, Hield reset the record with 37 points against Oregon. In March, Hield has been at his best.
1. Hield goes off in 3OT in the Phog
But one night in the Phog might disagree with that. Hield left the court to a standing ovation from a road crowd and a hearty congratulation from college basketball legend Dick Vitale. Hield scored a career-high 46 points, tying to most points scored by an opponent in Phog Allen Fieldhouse. But he left with a loss. It was a magical performance from maybe the greatest regular season game since the turn of the century. It made Hield the clear frontrunner for Player of Year.
Are we missing one?