Cavaliers Battle Sooners; Look to Advance to Sweet Sixteen
COLUMBIA, SC -
The UVa basketball team will be looking to advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2016 when they take on Oklahoma in Columbia on Sunday night.
The Cavaliers' season ended in the second round in 2017, and they were upset in the opening round last year.
Virginia held Gardner-Webb to just 56-points in its first round game.
They own the nation's Number One scoring defense, and the quick turn-around can make it even more imposing.
Oklahoma junior forward Kristian Doolittle says, "It can definitely rattle us a little bit, but we have to fight through adversity, on being able to turn down what might look like open shots, to be able to go get a better shot."
Sooners' head coach Lon Kruger adds, "When you have just one day, you're not going to change a lot of what you do. It's not like you can go try a bunch of new stuff. You try to tweak a little bit stuff that you think might be effective against them, but you don't really add a lot, or change a lot."
The Sooners would be more than happy to replicate their first round performance, as they scored 95 points against Ole Miss.
UVa junior forward Mamadi Diakite says, "They take a lot of pride in their offense. They're good. We're going to have to lay it on the line, in order to battle."
"They have size," says sophomore forward De'Andre Hunter. "They have guys who can score. They have big men. They're tough, physical, they run their stuff hard, so we're just going to have to be ready."
OU senior guard Christian James says, "We got a lot of work ahead. We know they're a great team, especially on the defensive end. They have a lot of great players. Hunter and guy are top players in the country. So we know we have our work cut out."
James is one of three players on the Oklahoma roster who played on the Sooners' Final Four team in 2016. Jack Salt is the only current Wahoo who has advanced past the first weekend of the tournament.
Junior guard Kyle Guy says, "Everyone on this team dreamt, and watched March Madness, and just wanted to be here in this moment. Now we have a chance, for my tenure here, we have our first chance to get past the second round, and that would be huge."
"I've never been to the Sweet Sixteen," adds junior point guard Ty Jerome. "We've been a One-seed twice, and a 5-seed once, and I've never been to the Sweet Sixteen. I'm playing with a lot of fire right now."
The winner of Sunday's game will advance to face either Oregon or UC Irvine in the Sweet Sixteen in Louisville.