Oklahoma never trailed by as many points this season (six) as it did at halftime at LSU on Saturday. Ben Simmons then started off the second half with a highlight-reel dunk and quickly the Tigers’ lead grew to 14 points.
But No. 1 Oklahoma, in a way that you can only expect from a team that has so much experience playing together, never wavered.
Buddy Hield showed why he is the best college basketball player in America, scoring 21 of his game-high 32 points in the second half as the Sooners escaped with a 77-75 victory.
Antonio Blakeney hit a 3-pointer to tie the game in the final minute, but Oklahoma won on a Isaiah Cousins jumper, set up by a perfectly designed play to send the defense to Hield and open up a lane for penetration.
It’s a heart-breaking loss for LSU, and there’s no other way to put it. Simmons was good (14 points, nine rebounds, five assists) but he got outplayed by Hield in the second half and did not take attempt a field goal in the final 4:46 of the game.
In 2002, then-unranked LSU nearly gave away a double-digit lead to then-No. 1 Arizona but hung on for a defining one-point win at home. The Tigers needed more efficient offense to repeat that feat on Saturday night and didn’t get it, resulting in a lost opportunity for a team that is currently on the outside of the NCAA Tournament picture.