HAVOC Haven: VCU vs. Oklahoma (NCAA Tournament Edition)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — We’re back for another edition of HAVOC Haven as the VCU Rams and the Oklahoma Sooners meet in Oklahoma City in the NCAA Round of 32. The 10th-seeded VCU Rams (25-10) and the 2nd-seeded Oklahoma Sooners (26-7) are in the West Region of the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament and will play at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, which is home to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

HAVOC HAVEN is live blogging from Social 52 in Richmond’s Fan District.Stop by and say hi.

If you didn’t already, check out my preview for this game and our NCAA Tournament section.

The Sooners are a 7-point favorite (over/under is 147) and will clearly have a home court advantage due to the fact that Norman is a suburb of OKC. The series between the two teams is even at two apiece but this game has much higher stakes — the winner punches their ticket to the Sweet 16.

POLL: Will VCU beat Oklahoma?

Tale of the tape:

Number 10 Seed: The VCU Rams (Richmond, Va.)*

  • Record: 25-10 overall, 14-4 in A-10
  • Coach: Will Wade (62-34)
  • Top Scorers: Melvin Johnson (17.4 ppg), Korey Billbury (11.4 ppg)
  • Top Rebounder: Justin Tillman (6.3 rpg)
  • Top shot blocker: Mo Alie-Cox (1.9 blocks per game)
  • Points Per Game: 77.3
  • Points Allowed Per Game: 66.7
  • Margin: 10.6
  • Free Throw Percentage: .694
  • Field Goal Percentage: .452
  • Opp. FG Pct..439
  • 3-Point FG Percentage: .352
  • 3-Pt. FG-Game: 7.2
  • Opp. 3-Pt. FG Pct.: .339
  • Opp. 3-Pt. FG-Game: 5.5
  • Rebounding: 40.6
  • Rebound Margin: 2.8
  • Turnovers: 11.5
  • TO Diff.: 3.7
  • Avg Steals: 8.6
  • Avg Blocks: 3.8

Number 2 Seed: The Oklahoma Sooners (Norman, Okla.)*

  • Record: 26-7 overall, 12-6 in Big 12
  • Coach: Lon Kruger (587-360)
  • Top Scorers: Buddy Hield (25 ppg), Isaiah Cousins (13.1 ppg)
  • Top Rebounder: Ryan Spangler (9.3 rpg)
  • Top shot blocker: Khadeem Lattin (2.2 blocks per game)
  • Points Per Game: 80.4
  • Points Allowed Per Game: 70.4
  • Margin: 10
  • Free Throw Percentage: .723
  • Field Goal Percentage: .460
  • Opp. FG Pct..406
  • 3-Point FG Percentage: .429
  • 3-Pt. FG-Game: 10.5
  • Opp. 3-Pt. FG Pct.: .339
  • Opp. 3-Pt. FG-Game: 7.5
  • Rebounding: 41.3
  • Rebound Margin: 1.4
  • Turnovers: 12.9
  • TO Diff.: .1
  • Avg Steals: 6.9
  • Avg Blocks: 5.3

Starters for VCU: 

Mo Alie-Cox (F), JeQuan Lewis (G), Jordan Burgess (G), Korey Billbury (G), and Melvin Johnson (G)

Early Tweets:

15:08 — Rough start for the Rams. Too much muscle from Oklahoma’s bigs and too many low percentage, long range shots from the Rams. OU 15 — VCU 5.

12:12 — Turnovers and poor shot selection. OU is up by two touchdowns. OU 21 — VCU 7.

6:32 — Lewis gets hot, hits two 3-balls; Doug Brooks add one of his own. And just like that… OU 30 — VCU 25.

4:26 — Brooks takes a foul against Buddy Hield — Hield will sit for the remainder of the half in foul trouble. OU 35 — VCU 27.

Deep thought: Too many missed three-balls (more of a statement than thought. OU 42 — VCU 31.

Stat line: VCU is shooting 39 percent from the field so far.

Halftime: OU 44 — VCU 31.

17:48 — Early run puts VCU back in the game. OU 47 — VCU 41.

Deep thought: Stop shooting the three, please… 6-21 from beyond the arc.

Stat line: Lewis has 20 points so far; Johnson has 15.

11:49 — Alie-Cox’s dunk edges VCU closer. OU 59 — VCU 56.

9:15 — 16-3 run, tie game. 63-63.

Stat line: Michael Gilmore makes best of playing time with 10 points.

Cranky thought: All that hard work is going to waste. OU 73 — VCU 67.

Timeout: OU 77 — VCU 71.

2:01 — Jonhson’s 3-ball keeps VCU in the game. OU 82 — VCU 77.

:15 OU 84 — VCU 81.

Final Score: OU 85 — VCU 81.

Official Box Score

The Insider’s View (courtesy of VCU Athletics)

The short story: Melvin Johnson and JeQuan Lewis combined for 45 points and led VCU back from a double-digit halftime deficit, but second-seeded Oklahoma held on for an 85-81 victory behind the heroics of Buddy Hield Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Oklahoma City.

The difference

  • Hield, a National Player of the Year candidate and likely NBA Lottery pick, scored 29 of his game-high 36 in the second half and scored 14 of 16 points for the Sooners over a critical six-minute second-half stretch.
  • VCU, which trailed 44-31 at the half, wrestled back to take the lead on three occasions, the last on a short hook by Jordan Burgess with 7:16 remaining. But Hield responded with a 3-pointer – one of six in the game – moments later to give Oklahoma a 69-67 edge. That trey sparked a 9-0 push by the Sooners and gave OU a 75-67 lead with 4:51 left.
  • VCU battled back to within three on a thunderous one-handed dunk by Mo Alie-Cox with 1:17 showing, but Oklahoma knocked down three free throws in the final moments to hang on for the win.
  • Oklahoma used a 17-2 run – sparked by a pair of Isaiah Cousins 3-pointers – to storm to a 21-7 lead in the first half. But three straight 3-pointers, two by Doug Brooks and one by Lewis, brought VCU back within 30-25 with 6:02 left in the half.

Inside the box score

  • Lewis produced his second straight excellent NCAA Tournament performance. The junior point guard scored 22 points, handed out nine assists and grabbed four rebounds.
  • Johnson, playing in the final game of his outstanding VCU career, scored 18 of his team-best 23 points in the second half to spur the Rams’ rally.
  • Sophomore Michael Gilmore, in his most extensive action since January, tied career highs in both points (12) and rebounds (8). His second 3-pointer of the night capped an 11-0 second half run for VCU and tied the game at 59.
  • Hield knocked down 6-of-14 treys for Oklahoma. Jordan Woodard added 17 points for the Sooners, while Cousins kicked in 15.

Quotable

  • “Today we ran into a great team. Unbelievable performance by Hield there down the stretch. Every time they needed a big basket, he answered the bell. He’s just a phenomenal player. Best player I’ve seen in college basketball. So I’m proud of our guys. We just didn’t quite have enough.” – VCU Coach Will Wade.
  • “I just told JeQuan in the locker room, please keep working. He’s a big-time player, as you can see. Next year he’s going to be extremely dangerous when he has the green light. And he’s the leader of this team. He’s going to be the voice and he’s only going to continue to get better. So for the most part, JeQuan, sky’s the limit, so I just hope they’re back in this position next year and going even further.” – Melvin Johnson

Notable

  • VCU reached the NCAA Tournament for the sixth consecutive year, one of eight schools in the country with a streak of that length.
  • The Rams won 25 games, and have won at least 24 in 10 straight seasons. Only VCU and Kansas can make such a claim.
  • Johnson finishes his career as one of VCU’s all-time greats. He scored 1,657 points, sixth-most in school history and knocked down a program-record 285 three-pointers. His 110 triples this year are the second-most in school single-season history.
  • Lewis averaged 21.5 points, 8.5 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals, while shooting .615 (16-of-26) from the floor, in two NCAA Tournament games this weekend.

Feel free to be a participant — this is a fan friendly blog. Send me a video of your pre-game, in-game, and/or post-game analysis to rcrocker@wric.com and I might post it. You can tweet at me too @RobbCrockerWRIC. I just might retweet you or make you famous here on the blog. Remember kids, keep it clean, your parents could be watching!

Not a fan of the Rams? Then follow 8News’ Richmond Spider blog, Arachnophilia.

*Editor’s note: Stats courtesy of ESPN, FOX Sports, VCU Athletics, Oklahoma University Athletics, and the Associated Press. 

8Sports Director Mitch Carr is in Oklahoma City and will be following the Rams during their run in the West Region of the NCAA Tournament. Follow him on Twitter and look for highlights and reaction from Sunday’s game on 8News at 6 and 11.

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