Sitting courtside with longtime pal and colleague Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com’s Senior Columnist, I mentioned and tweeted that after about twelve second half minutes in OU’s second-round NCAA game against VCU, that what Buddy Hield did and what OU did from that point on, probably would determine the Wooden National Player of the Year. The Sooners had lost a 13-point second half lead and trailed by two, 65-63.
If Hield didn’t dazzle and if the Sooners lost, it could very well have been enough to open the door for voters to opt for Denzel Valentine of Michigan State, who finished the season strong, although Sparty was popped in a mammoth upset in Round 1.
My guess is what Hield proceeded to do, clinched the NPOY honor as it more importantly, led his Sooners to a 4- point win and their second-straight Sweet Sixteen appearance.
Buddy went on a personal 8-0 run with his team down one with eight to play snuffing out an impressive VCU rally. Hield scored 17 of OU’s 19 points in a less than a six-minute span.
With a combination of lethal threes and explosive drives, Hield scored 29 of his team’s 36 points in the second half. It was enough to hold off a game and athletic VCU club, 85-81, at a raucous Chesapeake Arena, in OKC.
Hield might have been spurred on when VCU guard Daniel Brooks talked a little trash. Hield recalled later that, “He was telling me, ‘You the Player of the Year, you’re supposed to be going to work.”
And go to work he did. Barbequing Brooks. And surely vanquishing Valentine from the prestige that goes with being voted Wooden National Player of the Year.