Rashard Odomes and Christian James scored 20 points each as Oklahoma turned up the offense from the start to lead the No. 9-seeded Sooners to a 95-72 win over No. 8 Ole Miss on Friday in the East Regional at Columbia, South Carolina.
The Sooners (20-13) advance to play Sunday against top-seeded Virginia, which overcame a 14-point deficit to beat No. 16 Gardner-Webb 71-56 later Friday. The Rebels’ season ends at 20-13.
It was Oklahoma’s most points in an NCAA Tournament game since 1989 and the most points the Sooners had scored in any game this season. The win was the fourth-largest in NCAA Tournament history for a No. 9 seed over a No. 8.
Odomes and James were reserves on Oklahoma’s 2016 NCAA Tournament team but outside of James’ 12-point performance in that season’s Sweet 16 win over Texas A&M, neither had much individual success in the postseason before Friday.
In four NCAA Tournament games entering Friday’s game, Odomes had scored just eight points total.
The Sooners made the NCAA Tournament thanks primarily to their non-conference performance and quickly showed they belonged, scoring the game’s first 12 points.
After missing its first shot, Oklahoma hit eight consecutive from the floor to score 19 points in the game’s first five minutes. James had three 3-pointers in the game’s first 10 minutes.
The Sooners also turned up the defensive pressure, forcing nine first-half turnovers as they scored a season-high 50 points before the break. Oklahoma turned the ball over only once in the first half.
Odomes scored 14 of his points in the first half, feeding largely off Kristian Doolittle, who finished with 19 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. Brady Manek added 18 for Oklahoma.
The Sooners shot 57.6 percent from the floor in the game and went 21 of 26 from the free throw line.
The Rebels attempted just four free throws.
Terence Davis led Ole Miss, which dropped five of its last six games, with 17 points.
It was Oklahoma’s first NCAA Tournament victory since its Final Four run of 2016.
—Field Level Media