by RENALDO DORSETT
Just days after he received a major accolade for his work in the classroom, Buddy Hield played his way out of a brief slump on the court with a career high effort.
Hield was named to the 2015 Academic All-Big 12 Team on Wednesday and Saturday afternoon, he finished with 21 points and a career-high 13 rebounds in the Sooners’ 67-60 win over the TCU Horned Frogs.
The nationally ranked no.16 Sooners improved to 20-8, 11-5 in conference play and remain a strong contender for the Big 12 title.
Hield shot 6-11 from the field, 3-6 from the three point arch and 6-7 from the free throw line in 32 minutes.
In the previous two games, Hield shot just 7-29 from the field and 3-14 from three point range, including an eight point effort against Texas Tech which ended his streak of 20 consecutive games in double figures.
The junior guard and Grand Bahama native said he remained persistent through the recent shooting struggles.
“You know, just stay in the gym, just stay up late like I usually do when I get in slumps,” Hield said. “I just shoot the ball, and I just basically sleep there (in the gym), just trying to find my rhythm. Sometimes the slumps bother me, but I just stay in the gym putting up shots to get comfortable. It was good for me to get out of my slump today. I was able to shoot the ball with confidence and I got great support from my teammates and coaches.This week we worked a lot on box-out drills and it paid off today.””
Oklahoma trailed most of the second half before Tashawn Thomas made a layup put the Sooners up 58-56.
Thomas followed it up with a dunk on Oklahoma’s next possession to push the lead to four.
The Sooners made 6-6 free throws in the final 1:23 to remain in control.
“The Big 12 is tough so there’s going to be games like that. TCU came in this time with a stronger team and hit us first. We put ourselves in that situation, but we were able to storm back in the second half,” Hield said, “Just have to stay focused. We know what they’re capable of doing and we just have to be ready for a good game come Monday. We want that game badly and we need it badly, so we expect to win.”
It was the fourth double double of Hield’s career and his third of the season.
The Academic All-Big 12 honour was the first for Hield and he was named to the 19-player first team.
The first team includes student-athletes who have recorded a 3.20 or better grade point average.
Hield, a leading candidate for Big 12 Player of the Year, is a human relations major.
He is the Big 12’s leading scorer at 17 points per game on the season (league-high 18.1 ppg in conference play) and leads the Big 12 with his 2.6 3-pointers per game. In Big 12 play, he also ranks sixth in steals (1.56 spg), eighth in field goal percentage (.449), eighth in free throw percentage (.786) and 10th in 3-point field goal percentage (.383).
Hield has led the Sooners in scoring in eight of 15 conference games.
At the midseason mark, he was named as one of college basketball’s top prospects, recognised as one of the top players in all of NCAA Division I basketball as a candidate for John R Wooden Award Late Season Top 20.
He is one of three players from the Big 12 on the prestigious list.
The Wooden Award All American Team will be announced the week of the “Elite Eight” round of the NCAA Tournament.