LOS ANGELES: The Villanova Wildcats turned the tables on the Oklahoma Sooners and Bahamian star Buddy Hield on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) with an historic 91-51 rout to reach the prestigious US collegiate basketball championship game.
Guard Josh Hart scored 23 points and the Wildcats connected on 71 percent of their shots as Villanova won by the biggest margin of victory in the history of the national tournament semi-finals dubbed the “Final Four.”
Villanova will the University of North Carolina in the title game at NRG Stadium on Monday after the Tar Heels downed Syracuse in Saturday’s other semi-final.
The presence of US Vice-President Joe Biden, a noted Syracuse alumni, was not enough to inspire the Orange as North Carolina advanced 83-66.
The cavernous retractable-roofed home of the NFL’s Houston Texans is host to the final stages of the hugely popular 68-team National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament known as March Madness.
The tournament was still in the offing when Oklahoma notched a 23-point early season victory over Villanova in December.
But the Wildcats, now back in the final for the first time since they beat Georgetown for the title in 1985, avenged that defeat when it counted.
Not only were the Sooners unable to get defensive stops, they shot just 32 percent from the floor.
Villanova held national player of the year Hield, a surefire first-round pick in the next NBA draft — to nine points on four-of-12 shooting, including one-of-eight from three-point range.
Hield, in the last year of his college career, entered the contest averaging 25.4 points this season. He had scored 25 or more points in 18 games with a high of 46.
Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said the one-sided nature of his team’s defeat had hurt.
“It becomes embarrassing right there,” Kruger said. “You know, we lost our composure there obviously and things came apart. You never like handling things like that. We’d liked to have handled their run a little bit better.”