Brooklyn, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - The Oklahoma Sooners will try to pull off a shocking upset as they challenge the No. 1 Michigan State Spartans in the championship game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at the Barclays Center.
The Sooners entered Friday's action with a 3-0 record after taking down Alabama, North Texas and Idaho in their first three outings of the campaign. Oklahoma looked like it was about to suffer its first setback of the season, but it used a 7-0 run in the final 43 seconds to edge Seton Hall, 86-85, in the semifinals. The Sooners recorded a pair of steals in the final minute before Buddy Hield put them ahead with two makes at the free-throw line with 9.3 seconds left. They shot a 52.7 percent from the floor in the contest while limiting the Pirates to 41.1 percent field goal efficiency.
Michigan State showed why it is the top program in the nation on Friday as it completed a 96-77 rout of Virginia Tech to advance to the championship game. The Spartans assisted on 26 of their 36 made field goal attempts and hit on 14-of-35 from beyond the arc. They also committed only six turnovers and forced the Hokies into 17 miscues. Michigan State used a 14-0 run in the early stages of the second half after taking a 13-point lead into the intermission. It was the team's most dominant performance since its 98-56 victory over McNeese State on opening night.
This will be the eighth meeting in history between Oklahoma and Michigan State. The Spartans own a 4-3 all-time series lead with the most recent encounter taking place in December of 2003.
Cameron Clark tallied 20 points for Oklahoma on Friday to lead the way in its thriller against Seton Hall. Clark was 9-of-14 from the field and grabbed nine rebounds. Isaiah Cousins contributed 19 points while shooting 7-of-8 from the floor and 3-of-3 from beyond the arc. Hield managed 13 points, while Jordan Woodard added 12. The Sooners outscored the Pirates, 32-26, in the paint and held a 37-32 edge in the rebounding battle. Hield is pacing the team on the season with an average of 17 ppg. Clark is chipping in 14.8 ppg while Ryan Spangler is near a double-double average with 11.3 points and 8.8 boards per tilt. Woodard is handing out just over four assists per contest.
Adreian Payne scored 20 of his career-high 29 points in the first half for the Spartans on Friday. Gary Harris had 19 points, Keith Appling scored 13 and Branden Dawson added 12 with 10 rebounds. Payne also had 10 boards. The Spartans shot 50.7 percent from the floor in the contest and limited the Hokies to only 41 percent efficiency from the field. Payne is now averaging just under 20 ppg to go along with 8.2 rpg. Harris is second on the squad in the scoring column with 17 ppg. The unsung hero of MSU is Keith Appling, whose steady play at point guard has yielded 14.8 points and 6.4 assists per outing. Appling has handed out 32 assists with only eight turnovers, which he has made up for with the same number of steals.