By Kevin Sweeney
Four months ago, the Oklahoma Sooners blew out Villanova in Hawaii.
Today, the story was much different.
Villanova dominated Oklahoma from start to finish, winning 95-51 in the largest blowout in Final Four history. The Wildcats held national player of the year candidate Buddy Hield to single figures for just the second time all season.
Early in the contest, the Sooners hung in with the Wildcats. A hook shot by Jamuni McNeace gave Oklahoma a 17-16 lead with 12:34 to go in the first half. However, the Wildcats responded with a 12-0 run to take control in the game. It was Josh Hart who led the way for Villanova in the first half, scoring 15 points and snatching 3 rebounds. He was a factor on the offensive glass and defended well when matching up with Hield. A lay-in by Hart gave Villanova a 16 point lead, Oklahoma’s largest deficit of the season, with 4:10 to play in the half. A 3 by Hart with under 5 seconds to play gave the Wildcats a 42-28 lead into halftime.
In the second half, things went from bad to worse for the Sooners. Going into the half, it seemed imperative that Oklahoma get Buddy Hield more involved in the game. He scored the first bucket of the second half, but was held in check the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Villanova continued to light it up from the field. In the beginning stages of the half, the Sooners stuck around, but Villanova pulled away in the middle stages of the half. The Wildcats went on a remarkable 25-0 spanning more than 6 minutes to take turn the contest into a complete rout. From their, the game slowed down, with both teams allowing players who normally see very little time get in on the action, with the Villanova fans jubilant and the Oklahoma fans in absolute shock.
Villanova advances to take on either Syracuse or North Carolina in the National Championship Game on Monday night. Oklahoma will have to retool next season, losing Hield, as well as other senior leaders Isaiah Cousins and Ryan Spangler.