Oklahoma star Buddy Hield doesn't throw up many prayers, but his mom does

Oklahoma star Buddy Hield doesn't throw up many prayers, but his mom does
Oklahoma's Buddy Hield reacts after the Sooners finished off a 77-63 victory over Texas A&M on Thursday night. (Harry How / Getty Images)

Oklahoma had a 19-point halftime lead over Texas A&M in an NCAA West Regional semifinal Thursday night, but Jackie Swann, the mother of Sooners guard Buddy Hield, was not about to take any chances.

Swann, as she does every time she attends Buddy's games, left her seat in the Honda Center at intermission and spent the second half of Oklahoma's 77-63 victory walking the concourse, praying for her son.

"That's where I go to have peace," Swann, 50, said. "There's just a lot of butterflies. Sometimes they get careless, turn the ball over, start fouling. Two three-pointers and a few free throws, the lead is down to 10, and the game is on."

It has been this way since Hield, a projected top-10 NBA pick, was playing youth-league basketball in the Bahamas.


Swann, a single mother of seven, worked as many as three jobs at a time, usually as a housekeeper and cook, and rarely attended Buddy's games. But when she did, Hield noticed a trend.

"He said, 'Every time you come to my game, we lose,'" Swann said. "I said, 'Stop talking foolishness, boy. I don't make you lose. You and your team make you lose, not me.' But if the game was tight or tied, I would walk out and pray. This is something he wants me to do."

Swann doesn't limit her prayers to Hield and Oklahoma. She watched Oregon beat Duke in the nightcap of Thursday's doubleheader and said she prayed for both the Ducks and Blue Devils. Oklahoma will play Oregon in the regional final on Saturday, with the winner earning a Final Four berth.

"I pray for all the boys, not just for Buddy," Swann said. "I pray for the teams he's playing against, because that's everybody's dream. Everybody works hard to get where they are, all the kids push themselves to get there, and I pray that God will continue to bless them all."

End game intrigue

The question over what was said in the handshake line after Thursday night's Duke-Oregon game stretched into a second day.

After the Ducks' 82-68 win, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski stopped Oregon forward Dillon Brooks while both shook hands.

"He said I'm too good of a player to be showing off at the end," Brooks said afterward. "He's right."

In his postgame news conference, Krzyzewski denied the exchange. "I didn't say that," he said.

Brooks and Oregon Coach Dana Altman provided more background Friday.

"I talked with Coach Altman about the whole situation," Brooks said. "Me and Coach K, that conversation should have stayed with us."

Altman theorized that Krzyzewski may have been upset with Brooks' late three-pointer, which came when the game was all but over. Altman said Brooks shot it to avoid a shot-clock violation.

"I told Dillon to shoot it," Altman said. "So if anybody's got a problem with it, it should be directed at me."

Pedal to the metal

Oregon forward Chris Boucher has a unique skill set. The 6-foot-10, 190-pound senior, a transfer from Northwest College in Wyoming, used his wing span and shooting touch to become the only player in Pac-12 history to block 100 shots and make 35 three-pointers in one season.

But what most impresses teammate Tyler Dorsey about Boucher, a Montreal native, is his relentless work ethic.

"His motor is ridiculous," Dorsey said. "He's always winning the wind sprints in practice. I think he has an irregular heartbeat or something because he doesn't get tired. He's been a great addition."