Warm up: No. 11 Dayton v. No. 3 Oklahoma

By: Keith Raad – Sports Editor

What: NCAA Tournament Round of 32
When: 6:10 p.m. on TNT
Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

Dayton faces Oklahoma University (OU) in its fourth overall meeting in the NCAA Tournament Round of 32 Sunday. Dayton’s only win against the Sooners came in 1985 – coincidentally, in the Round of 32 -when alumnus Roosevelt Chapman scored 41 points to lift Dayton 89-85.

In response, Dayton’s all-time leading scorer took to Twitter following Friday’s game.

OU downed 14-seed University of Albany 69-60 Friday thanks to 14 offensive rebounds and 23 second chance points.

The OU Sooners starting five, a group that has started all 33 games together, boasts Big 12 Conference Player of the Year junior guard Buddy Hield and Big 12 Newcomer of the Year senior forward TaShawn Thomas.

Thomas, a transfer from the University of Houston, had 18 points and five blocks against the Great Danes. This season, Thomas recorded 20 double-digit scoring games. His best performance of the year came in late January at No. 22 Baylor University. Though the Sooners lost by 11, Thomas scored 24 points on 11-of-17 from the floor and grabbed eight rebounds.

Hield, a Freeport, Bahamas, native, was named to the 15-player Naismith Award ballot after leading the Big 12 in scoring at 17.4 points per game.

Gonzaga transfer Ryan Spangler leads the front court alongside Thomas, hitting 62 percent of his two-point shots. Between Jan. 13 and Feb. 7, Spangler averaged 15 points over nine games. The 6-foot-8 forward helped OU pick up wins against No. 24 Oklahoma State and No. 15 West Virginia University along that stretch.

Lon Kruger has headed the program at OU for four seasons. Kruger also has close to 30 years of experience in Division I basketball. He is the only man in college basketball to take five separate programs to the NCAA Tournament. Kruger began at the University of Texas Pan American, but took Kansas State University to the Elite Eight, the University of Florida to the Final Four, the University of Illinois to the NCAAs and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas to the 2007 Sweet Sixteen.

What Flyers are saying:

Scoochie Smith on Oklahoma: “I had a chance to see them a little bit this year on television. But not so much – I know they have great perimeter guard play in their three guards, starting guards. And that’s something that we have a little bit of emphasis on for next game.”

Smith on sleep schedule: “For me I didn’t get sleep until about 3 a.m. We had brunch today. But it’s just back to work. So, however much sleep we got, we’re just ready to work and just ready to play the next game tomorrow.”

Jordan Sibert on the Dayton crowd: “It was great to have them travel as well as they do. And it was great, even yesterday, watching Providence try to call plays, and our crowd is so loud they can’t even hear each other call plays. That’s a credit to our fans. And we appreciate them so much for just coming and continuing to support us.”

Archie Miller on TaShawn Thomas: “The thing I love about him is he’s not one-dimensional. Fifteen feet and in, he can burn you – whether he’s shooting, whether he’s driving. He’s got an agility about him around the basket. Spinning and moving, he can draw fouls and his offensive rebounding, timely offensive rebounds yesterday, was really impressive.”

What Sooners are saying:

TaShawn Thomas on Dayton: “We know that they play through their two big guys. We do have kind of a height advantage, but their two guys are aggressive. So we’re just going to try to be more aggressive than them.”

Jordan Woodward on Dayton: “We got to watch a little of [Dayton versus Providence], and we got to get some film this morning. We just noticed they’re a real scrappy and physical team.”

Lon Kruger on the game plan: “We try to throw it inside. We always do. Not just because we’re not that much bigger than Dayton, but we always do. With TaShawn and Ryan [Spangler] in there, we love to establish inside and play inside-out. Easier said than done in a club that’s as quick as they are. And their perimeter guys do a great job of helping on the post and digging back in there and getting steals and deflections. But we’ll still try to throw it in there.”

Kruger on Dayton’s 10:50 p.m. tip time Friday: “I think it’s not good at all. I’d love to see that revisited by whoever is going to make those decisions because, for the student-athlete, it’s not good to start a game at 11:50 (10:50 or 11:50?) and have it finished by 12:30 at night or whatever. I don’t think any coach is going to be a proponent of starting a game that late.”

Dayton notes from Friday:

Junior forward Dyshawn Pierre scored 20 points for the first time since Feb. 21 on the road against Duquesne University.

Freshman guard Darrell Davis hit two 3-pointers Friday snapping a 1-of-10 cold streak over the last four games.

The Flyers went 22-of-30 from the free throw line, the most made free throws in six games.

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