Villanova vs. Oklahoma: Score and Twitter Reaction from 2016 Final Four

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistApril 2, 2016

Villanova guard Josh Hart (3) reacts to a three-point shot against Oklahoma during the first half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 2, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Associated Press

The Villanova Wildcats dominated the cold-shooting Oklahoma Sooners to earn a spot in the national championship game with a lopsided 95-51 win Saturday at NRG Stadium in Houston. It marked the largest margin of victory in Final Four history.

Six Wildcats scored in double figures, led by Josh Hart with 23 points, in their most complete offensive performance of the campaign. They shot 71.4 percent from the field to get the program into the title game for the first time since 1985.

Buddy Hield had just nine points on 4-of-12 shooting for Oklahoma as his memorable NCAA tournament run came to a close with 126 points in five games. The Sooners couldn't generate enough offense to keep pace and let the contest get away.

Here's a look at how the first national semifinal played out:

2016 Final Four: (S2) Villanova vs. (W2) Oklahoma
Team1st Half2nd HalfTotal
Wildcats425395
Sooners282351
NCAA.com

The teams faced off in December at the Pearl Harbor Invitational, which resulted in a 23-point win for the Sooners. Villanova assistant coach Baker Dunleavy stated the biggest thing the Wildcats learned from the blowout was giving more respect to players other than Hield, per Nicole Auerbach of USA Today.

"There can be a temptation as a staff to focus a lot on Buddy, and rightfully so, he's great," Dunleavy said. "Sometimes when you do that and you haven't played a team, you struggle to convince guys how good the other guys are. Our guys have a full understanding of how good they are, too."

Learning that lesson paid off. The other members of Oklahoma's roster shot 51.2 percent from the field and made 10 threes in the first meeting. Those numbers dropped off significantly in the rematch, as Hield's teammates shot 31.3 percent with five three-pointers.

Though he didn't have a monster game, it didn't take long for Hield to make an impact. He scored five points before the first media timeout and set a new Big 12 scoring record in the process, as Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star noted:

He also provided one of the most highlight reel-worthy moments of the half:

Villanova owned the first half after a back-and-forth start, though. The Wildcats went on a 12-0 run midway through the opening 20 minutes to turn a one-point deficit into an 11-point advantage. The lead grew to 14 at the break.

The biggest difference was ball movement. Villanova passed the ball around with ease to create open looks on almost every possession, which allowed it to shoot 67 percent from the field in the first half. Hart led the charge with 15 points.

Here's a look at one example of the efficient offensive attack in action:

In turn, Oklahoma wasn't able to get out and run in transition, which is usually when Hield is at his best. It got bogged down in the half-court offense, allowing Villanova to pull away.

Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com showcased the Wildcats' defensive effort:

ESPN Stats & Info pointed out it was unfamiliar territory for the Sooners:

Villanova came out tentative in the second half while trying to maintain its big lead. Oklahoma took advantage of that by turning up the defensive pressure and quickly cutting the deficit to nine.

Jordan Woodard capped that spurt by putting back his own missed free throw, which illustrated Villanova's lack of attention to detail early in the second half:

Wildcats head coach Jay Wright immediately called a timeout to halt the sudden surge by the Sooners. His team responded with a quick 4-0 run to stretch the lead again, and Oklahoma never got back within single digits.

Any hope the Sooners had rapidly vanished as Villanova put together an extended 25-0 barrage to put the game out of reach. An emphatic dunk by Mikal Bridges was one of the marquee plays as the Wildcats punched their ticket to the final:

As a result, a matchup that many expected to feature plenty of drama and potentially late-game heroics was over well before the final horn sounded.

Seth Davis of CBS Sports described the one-sided result as a "complete shock":

Reigning Masters champion Jordan Spieth joined a chorus of others joking about the current state of basketball in Philadelphia:

Looking ahead, Villanova will advance to face either the last No. 1 seed standing, the North Carolina Tar Heels, or an upstart Syracuse Orange squad that's trying to complete one of the most unlikely championship runs of all time in the title game Monday night.

The most critical thing for the Wildcats, regardless of which team wins the second semifinal, will be maintaining their own level of play. They have looked borderline unstoppable throughout the tournament, including Saturday night.

Meanwhile, it's a disappointing end to the campaign for Oklahoma. Reaching the Final Four was a terrific accomplishment in its own right, but it's often difficult to realize that after watching championship hopes slip away just two wins short.

The loss brought an end to Hield's collegiate career. His NBA draft stock has skyrocketed to the point where he could be a top-five selection in June. That illustrates the type of void the Sooners will need to fill in the fall—not to mention losing fellow seniors Isaiah Cousins and Ryan Spangler as well.

Of course, the most important thing coming out of the game is the fact that Villanova is one victory away from the national title.

 

Postgame Reaction

Hield gave full marks to the Wildcats for their outstanding performance, per Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv.

"They just played great and hats off to Villanova, they deserved it," the Naismith Trophy finalist said.

Joey Helmer of OU Insider noted Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger thanked his group of seniors for helping change the culture of Sooners basketball.

"I love every one of them. Very, very proud of them," Kruger said.

Wright said on the air afterward that he felt bad for the Sooners because everything fell right for his team, as Zagoria relayed:

That was just one of those nights. I feel bad for Oklahoma, we've all had those nights and they've had a great season. They're a great team. And it's tough when they beat us so badly earlier in the year, it's tough to get as fired up. We knew they could beat us bad, so we had a lot of fear coming into this game.

Wildcats forward Kris Jenkins quickly shifted the focus to Monday night's title game, according to Big East Conference digital correspondent Cayleigh Griffin.

"The journey isn't over for us. We've got one more game and you can be sure we'll be ready," Jenkins said.