Despite a valiant second-half effort by the No. 10 VCU Rams, the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners are heading to the Sweet 16 after beating the Rams 85-81 on Sunday evening.
The win puts the Sooners into the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row, and the third time in the last seven seasons.
The game looked to be a runaway early. Oklahoma, thanks to star guard Buddy Hield, built up an early 21-7 lead, and, ultimately, ended the first half up 44-31. But instead of putting VCU away, the Sooners allowed the Rams to hang around and build momentum.
VCU opened up the second half on a 14-5 run to cut the lead to just four points. The Rams would snag their first lead since being up 5-4 with just under 10 minutes to play when Michael Gilmore hit a three-point jumper to make it 62-61. The two teams would trade the lead a handful of times over the next several minutes before Hield scored five straight points to put the Sooners up for good.
Hield finished with a game-high 36 points while also pulling down seven rebounds. Jordan Woodard finished with 17 points for Oklahoma while Isaiah Cousons knocked down 15 points of his own.
The Rams had two players finish with more than 20 points as Melvin Johnson and JeQuan Lewis ended the game with 23 and 22 points, respectively. Lewis also had nine assists for the Rams who finish the season 25-11
The Sooners await the winner of Sunday night’s game between No. 3 Texas A&M and No. 11 Northern Iowa.