ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) The Oklahoma Sooners proved they can thrive quite nicely in the NCAA Tournament even if Buddy Hield isn’t going off.
Because of that, the Sooners are one win away from returning to the Final Four for the first time in 14 seasons.
Jordan Woodard scored 22 points and Hield had 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead the second-seeded Sooners to a 77-63 romp over third-seeded and cold-shooting Texas A&M in the NCAA West Regional on Thursday.
It was a nice display of teamwork by the Sooners (28-7), who had five players in double figures as they advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2009. They’ll play Saturday against Oregon, which beat Duke Thursday night.
“That’s even better,” Hield said. “I’m able to have fun around there and watch my teammates make shots and make plays.”
Hield had scored 27 and 36 points in the Sooners’ first- and second-round victories.
“We shared the ball really well,” he said. “I’m real proud of the guys for stepping up and making shots. We were just taking advantage of opportunities. We tried to drive-and-kick and when they doubled somebody I tried to make the right pass.”
Oklahoma lost to North Carolina in the South Regional final in 2009. Oklahoma is trying to reach the Final Four for the first time since 2002, when it lost to Indiana in the national semifinals.
Tyler Davis scored 17 for A&M (28-9), which reached the Sweet 16 with a thrilling double-overtime victory against Northern Iowa after rallying from 12 points down in the final 44 seconds of regulation.
The Sooners made sure it would require a big comeback in this one. They blew open a close game by going on a 19-4 run during the last 7:42 of the first half to take a 45-26 lead. The Sooners forced the Aggies into bad shots and turnovers, and Woodard was the catalyst on offense.
Woodard started the decisive first half run with a 3-pointer and had another shot from behind the arc with 3:15 to go. He also fed Khadeem Lattin for a slam dunk and then hit a sweet, off-balance bank shot as the shot clock was close to expiring with about 20 seconds left.
The Aggies went more than seven minutes without a field goal. Tonny Trocha-Morelos made a layup to pull them to 24-20 with 9:32 to go before halftime.
“They just did a great job defensively,” Davis said. “They made us pay for our missed shots, they hit 3s, we weren’t knocking down our free throws, they never let you get comfortable in the post.”
The best the Aggies could do was go on a 7-2 run to open the second half. All that did was pull them to 47-33, and the Sooners responded with a 6-2 burst, with Ryan Spangler making three straight shots.
Oklahoma shot 49.2 percent while holding the Aggies to 34.2 percent. Texas A&M added to its misery by making only six of 28 3-pointers and just 13 of 24 free throws.
WOODARD ON TARGET
Woodard made five of six 3-pointers. Hield wasn’t as effective as usual from behind the arc, making just two of seven.
“I just wanted to lock in,” Woodard said. “Coach told me to just make sure I’m ready and locked in and ready to shoot because a lot of attention goes on the other guys; Buddy, Isaiah (Cousins), Ryan, they’re going to focus in on them.”
Christian James added 12 points for Oklahoma while Spangler and Lattin had 10 apiece.
Jalen Jones had 11 for the Aggies while Danuel House scored 10.
Texas A&M: The Aggies dropped to 4-1 against teams from its old conference, the Big 12.
Oklahoma: The Sooners, one of the nation’s most lethal teams from behind the 3-point line, made 11 of 25 (44 percent) long shots.
Oklahoma plays Saturday against No. 1 seed Oregon.