Before there was Buddy Hield, there was Hollis Price, who led Oklahoma to the Final Four in 2002. Price, then 22, guided the Sooners to Atlanta, where they lost to eventual runner-up Indiana. Now 36, Price is proud of what the current Sooners have accomplished.
“Man, this is good,” he said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “It brings back memories from 14 years ago.”
Oklahoma has had a brilliant tournament run, outscoring the opposition by a combined 44 points. Hield, the favorite to win National Player of the Year, has led the way with 29.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. He’s also shooting 56.7 percent from the floor and 47.5 percent (19-of-40) from three-point range.
“It starts from the top with Coach Kruger’s calm demeanor and with Buddy Hield’s calm demeanor and killer instinct – it’s just flowing to everybody,” Price said. “I really think the X-factor for the team, though, is Jordan Woodard. When he’s on his game and he’s hitting his shots, it’s pretty hard to beat those guys. He does it all. He can get fouled, go to free throw line, knock down free throws and just put the other team in bad predicaments with his penetration. He just opens up the floor. And not to mention you got Isaiah Cousins on the floor as well. Khadeem Latin is showing that he’s a pretty good defender down low and finishing things and (Ryan) Spangler as well.”
Woodard is averaging 16.8 points in the tournament and has shot 7-of-9 from three points range over his last two games, as Oklahoma has knocked off No. 1 Oregon 80-68 and No. 3 Texas A&M 77-63.
“I think what’s carrying those guys and what’s (not being talked about enough) is the way they’re playing defense,” Price said. “To be successful in the tournament, your guards have got to play good and your defense has got to be great. Oklahoma’s defense in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 was unbelievable. To win by double figures in both games, it’s showing that they are really competing on the defensive end and rebounding.”