OU swamped Villanova 78-55 in Hawaii Tournament

Then-No. 6 Oklahoma played then-No. 9 Villanova December 7 in the Pearl Harbor Invitational in Hawaii.

The Sooners blasted Villanova 78-55.

Villanova earned a trip the Final Four  in Houston with a 64-59 win over Kansas Saturday night.

The two teams play a rematch Saturday in Houston in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament.

“We had really good movement,” OU coach Lon Kruger said after the Oregon game.  “Villanova is a really good club. We made more shots than they did, but they’re going to have a terrific year.”

Villanova hit only four of 32 three-point attempts while OU went 14 for 26. The Sooners outrebounded Villanova 41-33.

Oklahoma had five players hit double figures. Isaiah Cousins had 19 points, Buddy Hield had 18 points, Ryan Spangler and Dinjiyl Walker each had 11 and Jordan Woodard had 10.

“Isaiah was terrific,” said Kruger. “I thought he took the game over in the second half. He’s good off the dribble and was making shots.

“In that second half he just made so many good plays for other players. He was able to knock down the jumper, but when they stepped at him he was able to drive it and kick and made good wide open jumpers for other people. It was terrific.”

“We came out ready,” Hield said after the game. “Coach (Kruger) prepared us this week. We had three days of practice, and we knew they were a great team and we had to come out here and execute. I had wrist formality and I had to find a way to make shots, and I missed four in a row.

“I was glad to get a win against a great team, and we just have to keep our focus and build off this win and prepare for the next one.”

Villanova was led by three players, Josh Hart, Ryan Arcidiacono and Phil Booth with 10 apiece.

Spangler added 10 rebounds and so did Daniel Ochefu of Villanova.

Oklahoma led 32-26 at the half but exploded for 46 points in the second half, while holding Villanova to 29. The Sooners’ 78 points were the most by a Villanova opponent at that point in the season. Nova’s 55 points marked a season low.

How does Villanova stop OU in Houston?

“ I don’t know because we didn’t have the answer for them,” said Villanova coach Jay Wright after his win over Kansas. “They beat us good. They beat us real good and Buddy [Hield] was unbelievable today. We’re going to enjoy this one and then we’re going to try to figure it out.”

Villanova has improved and that improvement showed in beating No. 1 Kansas in what some are calling an “ugly win.” The Villanova players think their confidence will give them an edge over Oklahoma on Saturday.

“I think the first time we played them we had a lot of young guys coming in that didn’t know what we were completely about yet,” said Ochefu. “The game was not ugly at all. I think throughout the course of the year, we’ve grown a lot, and Buddy Hield is an amazing player, Oklahoma is an extremely well-coached team with great players.

“It’s going to be a battle. We take it upon ourselves to make the game extremely ugly.”

Villanova (33-5), ranked No. 1 for several weeks, won the Big East with a 16-2 league mark.

Their five regular season losses came to No. 2-seeded Oklahoma, Virginia (seeded No. 1 in the NCAAs), Providence (No. 9 seed), Xavier (a No. 2 seed) and Seton Hall (No. 6 seed).

The Wildcats beat Iowa, Miami, Nebraska, Stanford, Georgia Tech, St. Joseph’s, Xavier, Seton Hall, Butler, Temple and Providence plus others.

Villanova has struggled in recent NCAA Tournaments.

Villanova lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2010 as a No. 2 seed; in the second round in 2015 as a No. 1 seed; and in the first round in 2011 and 2013 as a No. 9 seed.