The 2015-2016 season was one for the record books for the University of Oklahoma. With Buddy Hield leading the Sooners offense, and leading the Big XII in all-time scoring, it seemed nearly impossible to stop the Sooners from reaching the Final Four and winning the national championship. When matched up with Villanova, there was hope that the Sooners could pull off a win against the Wildcats like they did in the Pearl Harbor Classic and advance to the championship, but that hope was short-lived. The Final Four game between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Villanova Wildcats is a game that all Sooner fans surely never want to talk about, but in order to understand why Oklahoma didn’t win the championship, that dreadful game must be relived.
OU and Villanova met twice during the 2015-2016 season, once in the Pearl Harbor Classic and once in the NCAA Tournament. In the two teams’ first matchup on December 7, the Sooners routed the Wildcats 78-55. The Wildcats were held to a mere 12.5% from behind the arc, 31.7% field goal efficiency, and were defensively outrebounded by the Sooners 33-24. Villanova guard Josh Hart was held to just 10 points, well below his season average of 15.5 ppg. OU’s Ryan Spangler sported a double double and lead the team in rebounds with 10. Although Oklahoma’s defense played stepped up to the plate, it was their unstoppable offense that truly set the Sooners apart from the Wildcats. Villanova’s starting lineup scored just 40 points collectively and accounted for nearly 73% of the team’s points; Oklahoma’s Isaiah Cousins and Buddy Hield scored 37 points combined, boasting 19 and 18 points respectively. The Sooners shot an impeccable 53.8% from downtown, well above their highly respectable season average of 42.2%. Even though Khadeem Lattin didn’t play his best game and only scored two points, Dinjiyl Walker came off the bench to rack up 11 points in just 18 minutes. Except for an 11-0 run Nova had in the first half to tie the game up at 26, the Sooners had complete control of this game.
But a twist of fate occurred and it was the exact opposite scenario in the Final Four game, where the Wildcats blew out the Sooners 95-51. Just how Villanova was held to a 31.7% field goal percentage, the Wildcats defense suffocated the Sooners and held them to that exact same field goal percentage. They also had 15 more defensive rebounds than the Sooners, along with less turnovers and more steals. Nova’s defense caused the Sooners offense to crash and burn, shooting a meager 22.2% three point percentage while the Wildcats made 61.1% of their three point attempts. The only player to score double digits for Oklahoma was Jordan Woodard with 12 points; Khadeem Lattin was again held to just 2 points, while Cousins and Hield were held to 8 and 9 points respectively. Villanova’s John Hart scored just two points less than 4 of OU’s starters, who only combined for a paltry 25 points. Even though the Sooners collected nearly twice as many offensive rebounds as it did defensively, the offense had shut down to where those second chances meant nearly nothing. The unforgettable crash of the season-long great Oklahoma offense and the imploding of their defense during the Final Four game proved to be the formidable reasons why the Sooners did not win the national championship.
University Oklahoma ’20