East Region: Oklahoma advances, will face MSU next
Columbus, Ohio — Facing a deficit and a fired-up Dayton team, fueled by its fans who packed the house again, Oklahoma went on lockdown.
A steal, then another, and then a third helped Oklahoma get the lead. A block by Buddy Hield put Dayton away.
Hield and Jordan Woodard led a second-half defensive surge as Oklahoma quieted the Flyers and their fans to advance to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament with a 72-66 victory Sunday.
Coach Lon Kruger said it wasn't a matter of doing anything differently on defense — just doing it better.
"I thought we just took on some individual challenges a little bit within the team concept at that point," said Kruger, who became the second coach to take four schools (Kansas State, Florida and UNLV) to the round of 16.
Third-seeded Oklahoma (24-10) will play Michigan State on Friday at the East Regional in Syracuse, New York.
The Flyers (27-9), who started in the First Four at home, came up a victory short of their second straight trip to the Sweet 16 as an 11th seed.
"Yeah, just we just didn't make shots," said Jordan Sibert, Dayton's leading scorer on the season who had only seven points. "Had nothing to do with us being tired. Just some shots didn't go in. It's basketball."
Hield scored 15 points, including a layup after Woodard's steal to make it 57-56 with 5:56 left. Oklahoma never trailed again, slowly growing its lead from the line. Woodard had 16 points, including seven free throws in the final minute.
OU held Dayton scoreless for 9:04 and without a basket for 10:32 in the second half.
With the Sooners up four, Hield stuffed Darrell Davis as he went up for a fast-break layup after a turnover by Woodard. Hield said the turnover was his fault.
"I either had to foul them, don't let them get a shot up, but I made a good hustle play," the Big 12 player of the year said.
Scoochie Smith led Dayton with 16 points.
Dayton fell behind by double digits early as the Sooners knocked down three straight 3s to start the game. Playing for the sixth time in 10 days, it was fair to wonder if the Flyers were finally running out of energy, even while getting a boost from another partisan and passionate crowd at Nationwide Arena.
"I think to start the game our legs weren't under us. But I did think we fought hard to get back. And I think the rest of the game was much more like ourselves," coach Archie Miller said.
The Flyers scored nine straight points to open a 46-40 lead on Davis' beat-the-shot-clock 3 at 13:40, prompting Oklahoma to call a timeout. It didn't immediately help. Dyshawn Pierre knocked down another 3 and Dayton had its biggest lead.
Davis finished with 15 points.
A 3 by Bobby Wehrli made it 52-45 at 11:51, but then the Flyers went cold.
During another timeout, the Sooners got after each other, and then they got after Dayton on the defensive end.
"We were all speaking up and we just trusted each other," Hield said. "Shows a good sign for our team, trusting each other."
The Sooners extended their defense, getting into the passing lanes for two straight steals that led to two hoops.
Louisville 66, Northern Iowa 53: Rick Pitino and Louisville are heading to the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight year.
At Seattle, Terry Rozier scored 25 points Sunday night to lift the fourth-seeded Cards. Montrezl Harrell added 14 for Louisville (26-8), including a couple of game-sealing alley-oop jams on passes from Rozier.
The Cardinals will play eighth-seeded North Carolina State on Friday in an East Region that is now missing the top two seeds.
The Cardinals packed it in against Northern Iowa's top scorer, Seth Tuttle, holding him to 14 points and only seven shot attempts. The Panthers (31-4) were trying for their first trip to the second weekend since 2010, but it didn't happen.
Instead, it's Louisville now two wins away from its third Final Four since 2012.