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South Regional - Round 3
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5:07 PM PT6:07 PM MT7:07 PM CT8:07 PM ET12:07 PM GMT8:07 PM 北京时间5:07 PM MST7:07 PM EST, Mar 24, 2019
Colonial Life Arena, Columbia, South Carolina  Attendance: 16,332

No. 1 seed Virginia not taking Oklahoma lightly

Virginia coach Tony Bennett did not take much time to exhale after his top-seeded Cavaliers put away Gardner-Webb 71-56 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday in Columbia, S.C.

"Did you watch Oklahoma play?" Bennett asked in response to a question about whether his team could finally get past the disappointment of the 2018 NCAA Tournament, when Virginia became the first No. 1 seed to fall in the tournament's first round.

The top-seeded Cavaliers play the ninth-seeded Sooners on Sunday in the second round after Oklahoma blew out Ole Miss 95-72 in its opening game.

But Bennett said it would take more than a win over Gardner-Webb to put away the memories of last year's historic first-round loss to Maryland-Baltimore County a year ago, even if coming back from a double-digit, first-half deficit Friday helped.

"That will always be part of our story," Bennett said. "I understand that. I'm sure a lot of people thought it was going to be part of our story the second year in a row. But it's just now, this is a new year. This is trying to be in the moment, and that's a challenge to the best of your ability.

"So now you get your rest, you prepare for Oklahoma, and get ready."

Virginia, as has been the case in recent years under Bennett, has the best scoring defense in the country.

The Cavaliers allow an average of just 55.1 points per game -- more than three points better than No. 2 Michigan.

"They're one of the best teams in the country," Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. "You've got to get everyone playing well and make shots. That's probably the biggest thing against good basketball teams -- making shots.

"Easier said than done. ... We know (our) hands will be full."

Oklahoma has struggled with top defenses this season, going 0-5 against teams that finished the season ranked in the top 10 in defense. The Sooners didn't score more than 61 points in either of their two losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State, or in their loss to Wisconsin.

In their first-round win, the Sooners used a strong inside-out performance fueled by junior forward Kristian Doolittle to frustrate the Rebels' defense from the start.

Doolittle wound up with 19 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. Oklahoma had four players finish with at least 18 points.

The Sooners also protected the ball, with just four turnovers -- one in the final seconds as Oklahoma was content to just run down the clock. The Sooners hadn't turned the ball over fewer than six times in any game this season.

But Virginia's stellar defense isn't predicated on forcing bunches of turnovers. The Cavaliers ranked No. 327 in turnovers forced this season but Virginia is near the top in field-goal percentage defense. However, Gardner-Webb shot a respectable 44 percent against the Cavaliers on Friday.

The winner of Sunday's game will advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2016, when Oklahoma made the Final Four and the Cavaliers made it to the Elite Eight.

--Field Level Media

Updated March 23, 2019

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