Woodard leads OU past No. 3 Texas A&M

No. 2 seeded Oklahoma doesn’t always have to have a big night from Buddy Hield to win convincingly.

Point guard Jordan Woodard led OU with 22 points and Hield had 17 as the Sooner raced past No. 3 seed Texas  A&M 77-63 on March 24 in the Sweet Sixteen.

“I just wanted to lock in,” Woodard said. “Coach told me to just make sure I’m ready and locked and ready to shoot because a lot of attention goes on, you know, the other guys, Buddy, Isaiah, Ryan, they’re going to focus in on them. So I’ve got to be ready and find an open spot.”

Woodard had 22 points, five rebounds and two steals on the night. It marked his 25th game of the season scoring in double figures and his sixth game with at least 20.

“I’m really happy for Jordan,” Hield said. “I told him earlier that when he does that, the whole game is opened up for everybody because they don’t know who to pick from. They want to keep denying me the whole game, I just step up and he can drive baseline and make a play.”

Woodard finished 8 for 11 from the field, including 5 of 6 from downtown, en route to his highest scoring output in 10 games.

“I’ve been a fan of his since he was in high school,” Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said of Woodard. “The kid wins. He wins. He makes the right plays and he plays on both ends of the floor. He’s one of the better point guards we’ve played against all year. I was concerned about him for every reason.”

Freshman guard Christian James added 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from long distance (four treys tied a career high). The 12 points were one shy of his career high.

“He’s a freshman and he steps up in these big situations, and coach is putting him out there,” said Hield. “His confidence level is always high for him. When he first came in, he always had that swagger and that talk. I’m just happy for him. There’s no surprise it was money, that hook shot. It may be a surprise for you, but it’s no surprise for us because that’s what he does every day.”

OU had 41 rebounds while the Aggies had 42. Hield had 10 rebounds while Ryan Spangler had 8 for the Sooners.

“They’re a big club,” Kruger said. “I thought we did really good. Davis is really good down inside. I thought he got away from us a few times in the second half. He posted so deep. Thought we did a good job to open the ballgame. Our perimeter guys helped with the activity, digging out some passes, some dribbles, getting some deflections in there. But, yeah, the main thing, I guess, even with them on the boards is probably — we would have taken that going in given their size.”

OU’s Isaiah Cousins had only two points but he contributed 8 assists. No one from A&M had more than 5 assists.

“I thought our spacing was good,” Kruger said. “I thought our attack was good. Guys, again, we got a lot of transition opportunities which we converted, which increases the assist a bit. Yeah, then they stepped up and made shots.

“I thought the guys did a terrific job of playing with a good attack; downhill, moving the ball, weren’t tentative at all, and it’s a good result.”

The win over No. 15 Texas A&M marked the ninth victory this season for the Sooners over an AP Top-25 opponent, a school record (previous record was seven in 2014-15).