COLUMBIA, S.C. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Oklahoma got its best offensive performance of the season when it mattered most. Now the Sooners will have to face the best defensive team in the country.
Oklahoma advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament as the No. 9 seed in the South Region by rolling past No. 8 seed Ole Miss 95-72 on Friday. The Sooners shot 57.6 percent from the floor for the game, and those 95 points were a season high.
With a win on Sunday, Oklahoma would advance to the Sweet 16 for the third time in five years. The Sooners will have to get past Virginia -- statistically the best defensive team in the country, giving up just 55.1 points per game -- to get out of the tournament's first weekend.
“There’s not many people as good in the country as they are," Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said of the Cavaliers on Saturday. "Probably in our league, the two teams, Texas Tech, Kansas State, probably reminds you more in preparation than any other teams, and we had trouble scoring on those teams. So we’ve got to improve for tomorrow.”
The Sooners had four players score at least 18 points in Friday's win, led by 20 apiece from a pair of senior guards, Rashard Odomes and Christian James. Junior forward Kristian Doolittle finished with a double-double, 19 points and 15 rebounds, while sophomore forward Brady Manek added 18 points.
“Just come in with the same mentality that we did yesterday," freshman guard Jamal Bieniemy said. "It’s a regular game, play hard, but in the back of our minds know we’ve got to do extra, got to do more to get the win.”
Oklahoma is 2-2 all-time against No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, including a win against Oregon in 2016 en route to the Final Four. James is one of three Sooners on the current roster who played on that Final Four team.
“You see it in March all the time. We get the opportunity to go out there and take down a No. 1 seed," James said. "We’re going to be excited. We’re going to be ready to go. There’s going to be a lot of fire tomorrow.”