College Sports

Oklahoma uses offensive explosion to roll Ole Miss in first round of NCAA Tournament

Sights and sounds of the NCAA practice round in Columbia

See what it's like on the court of the NCAA basketball championship during the practice rounds.
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See what it's like on the court of the NCAA basketball championship during the practice rounds.

Columbia’s first men’s NCAA Tournament game in 49 years was stopped less than two minutes after the ball was tipped.

Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis hopped off his courtside seat and called timeout, sensing danger after just four Oklahoma points.

His hunch was right.

The ninth-seeded Sooners started hot and stayed that way en route to a 95-72 win over the 8-seed Rebels at a mostly full Colonial Life Arena.

OU (20-13) has now won in the Big Dance for the first time since advancing to the 2016 Final Four. Ole Miss (20-13) was making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2015.

Two Kristian Doolittle jumpers gave the Sooners a 4-0 lead at the 18:46 mark, prompting Davis to try to halt momentum. But, really, there was little stopping OU.

Irmo native and Ole Miss guard Devontae Shuler talks to reporters following the Rebels loss to Oklahoma in first round of NCAA Tournament.

The team that entered 216th nationally in scoring and 167th in field goal percentage had 50 points and was shooting 58 percent at the half. The Sooners made 15 of their first 20 shots and built a 15-point lead with 8:47 remaining period. The advantage grew to as many as 29 in the second half.

Oklahoma’s 95 points are a season-high, perhaps a good omen as it advances to face No. 1 Virginia and its notoriously stout defense.

The Sooners, who shot 57.6 percent for the game, were led by Doolittle’s 19 points and 15 rebounds. Irmo’s Devontae Shuler finished with 13 points and three assists for Ole Miss.


Ole Miss advances to face Virginia on Sunday at a time to be announced. Ole Miss’ season ends with a 20-13 record.

Notes and numbers

Three: Oklahoma committed a season-low three turnovers.

Drought: Ole Miss’ loss means it hasn’t won at CLA — against South Carolina or anyone else — since beating the Gamecocks on Jan. 18, 2014, a span of three games.

Celebrity sighting: Trae Young, an Atlanta Hawks rookie who starred for Oklahoma last season, drove down from Atlanta to watch his former team. He sat across from the OU bench.

Postgame reaction

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger: “It’s a special opportunity to win tournament games. They’re hard to win. Any time you can do that, it’s a good memory for the rest of their lives.”

Oklahoma guard Christian James, who scored 20 points: “We’ve been having a lot of good practices, just getting reps up and things like that. The ball felt good today.”

Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis: “Oklahoma, give them all the credit. They totally out-classed us, out-toughed us in every area.”

Box score


OKLAHOMA (20-13)

Manek 7-9 2-2 18, Doolittle 6-10 7-8 19, Odomes 8-10 4-4 20, Bieniemy 1-2 0-0 2, James 7-12 2-2 20, Freeman 0-1 0-0 0, Polla 1-2 0-0 2, McNeace 2-5 2-4 6, Calixte 0-3 1-2 1, Reynolds 2-5 3-4 7, Lazenby 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 34-59 21-26 95.


Olejniczak 2-2 0-0 4, T.Davis 6-14 1-2 17, Tyree 5-16 0-0 10, Shuler 5-9 0-0 13, Hinson 4-10 0-0 11, Buffen 0-0 0-0 0, Stevens 3-6 2-2 9, Halums 2-3 0-0 4, D.Davis 1-1 0-0 2, Rodriguez 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 29-62 3-4 72.

Halftime: Oklahoma 50-33. 3-Point Goals: Oklahoma 6-13 (James 4-7, Manek 2-3, Freeman 0-1, Calixte 0-1, Bieniemy 0-1), Mississippi 11-31 (T.Davis 4-9, Shuler 3-6, Hinson 3-8, Stevens 1-2, Halums 0-1, Tyree 0-5). Fouled Out: None. Rebounds: Oklahoma 30 (Doolittle 15), Mississippi 28 (Buffen, Hinson 6). Assists: Oklahoma 15 (Doolittle, Bieniemy 5), Mississippi 16 (T.Davis 6). Total Fouls: Oklahoma 13, Mississippi 24.

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Andrew Ramspacher has been covering college athletics since 2010, serving as The State’s USC men’s basketball beat writer since October 2017. His work has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors, Virginia Press Association and West Virginia Press Association. At a program-listed 5-foot-10, he’s always been destined to write about the game. Not play it.
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