Perhaps we should just stop referring to any team in the No. 5 vs. No. 12 matchups as a favorite.
After Harvard beat Cincinnati and N.C. State led big against Saint Louis before a late collapse, 12th-seeded North Dakota State shot 52.9 percent from the field and outlasted Oklahoma in overtime en route to a thrilling 80-75 victory.
After the win, head coach Saul Phillips celebrated the school's first tournament win in history with the home crowd. The March Madness Twitter feed captured the iconic image:
The team followed it up with a memorable celebration in the locker room:
The Bison's two best scorers, Taylor Braun and Marshall Bjorklund, combined for just 24 points, but Lawrence Alexander picked up the slack to help the Summit League champs to the round of 32.
Alexander had a career-high 28 points, eight rebounds, four assists, a game-tying three-pointer with 12 seconds remaining in regulation and six more points in overtime.
On the other side of things, senior Cameron Clark did everything possible to extend his career with Oklahoma. He carried the Sooners down the stretch with three clutch jumpers in the final two minutes of regulation, finishing with 25 points and six rebounds.
Clark was surrounded by youngsters, though, which CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein noted was a key to the game:
Isaiah Cousins added 17 points, but it wasn't enough, as Long Kruger suffered his second straight second-round defeat.
Through the first 16 minutes of the first half, the action was about as evenly contested as possible. There were 11 lead changes, and the biggest advantage for either team was five points.
The Bison defended the interior, as evidenced by this monstrous block from senior Jordan Aaberg:
But the Sooners, as they have done for much of the season, stayed close because of their ability to light it up from the outside. Cousins hit all three of his first-half attempts from beyond the arc, and Oklahoma hit 6-of-16 overall.
After Cousins put OU ahead by three with 3:34 left in the half, however, the Bison reeled off an 11-0 run to enter the locker room with a 37-29 lead—the largest of the opening 20 minutes.
Despite getting just 10 combined points from their two best offensive players, Braun and Bjorklund, the Bison shot a scoring 62.5 percent from the field, which, as CSN's Daniel Martin noted, wasn't all that surprising:
Phillips was certainly fired up during his memorable—and live—halftime interview, via Valley News Live's Beth Hoole:
The fun was only just getting started.
Oklahoma slowly chipped back away at the lead, and just over eight minutes into the second half, a Tyler Neal three-pointer tied the game at 50. Every time the Sooners looked intent on taking the lead, though, North Dakota State had an answer.
The next such answer would be on the defensive end.
After that Neal three, North Dakota State sharpened its defense, and the Sooners wouldn't make a field goal until Clark hit a jumper with 3:01 remaining. USA Today's George Schroeder put the official time on the drought:
That set off a switch, as Clark hit another three after that, and after a couple Cousins free throws that gave Oklahoma its first lead since the 3:07 mark in the first half, he buried a third consecutive clutch jumper to make it 64-61 with 58 seconds remaining.
ESPN put it simply:
Oklahoma left the door open with a couple of missed free throws, however, and Alexander buried the game-tying three with just 12 seconds remaining. After Oklahoma missed three shots on the subsequent possession, we headed to the third straight overtime of the day, which could only mean one thing, per USA Today's Nicole Auerbach:
In the extra period, Braun fouled out, but little-used freshman Carlin Dupree came in cold off the bench to hit two free throws and a tough runner in the lane to seal the victory.
The Bison will get either San Diego State or New Mexico State in the third round, and judging by Thursday's rounded offensive performance, they will give either of those defensive-minded teams a true problem.
And as for those No. 5 vs. No. 12 matchups, well, VCU better be careful against Stephen F. Austin on Friday.
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