Oklahoma looked like Oklahoma again Saturday, which made things look very bad for Louisiana Tech.
The fourth-ranked Sooners, behind Mookie Blaylock and Stacey King, played with the intensity that had been missing in recent weeks as they defeated Louisiana Tech, 124-81, in the second round of the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. Southeast Regional at Nashville, Tenn.
Blaylock scored 34 points, and King had 21 points and 15 rebounds as Oklahoma set a tournament record for points. The 124 broke the mark of 123 set last season by North Carolina against Loyola Marymount.
“You get out there sometimes and play to keep from losing instead of playing to win,” Sooner Coach Billy Tubbs said. “I think we played to win today.
“Today was refreshing, to say the least.”
The top-seeded Sooners (30-5) had to overcome a 17-point deficit to beat East Tennessee State in the first round Thursday. But this game was never in doubt as Oklahoma advanced to the regional semifinals for the third consecutive season.
With the score tied, 17-17, six minutes into the first half, Oklahoma went on an 18-2 run that made it 35-19 with 8:12 left. The Sooners stretched their lead to 24 by halftime, and Louisiana Tech got no closer in the second half.
“They hit their shots early and that tended to really shock us,” Bulldog Coach Tommy Joe Eagles said. “They hadn’t been shooting the ball well late in the season from the perimeter, and we were booking on that today.”
The Sooners’ first nine points came on three-point shots, and they finished with 30 points from behind the 19-foot 9-inch stripe. They also forced 29 turnovers after having caused only nine Thursday.
“Coach told us not to worry about it if the shot’s not going in, to keep shooting,” said Blaylock, who made four three-pointers, including one from halfcourt at the final buzzer.
“We’ve been playing conservative. We haven’t been going out and destroying people like we usually do.”
Instead, the Sooners had been held to fewer than 100 points in their previous four postseason games, after having scored 100 or more in 17 regular-season contests.
The 34 points were the most for Blaylock since he scored 38 against Iowa State Jan. 21. Blaylock also showed a defensive spark that has been missing in recent weeks.
“When he’s good, they’re very good,” Eagles said. “When he’s not good, they’re very average, and he was very, very good today.”
Ninth-seeded Louisiana Tech, which defeated LaSalle in the first round, held its own in the early going before the big spurt put the Sooners in control for good.
“I think Oklahoma came out really fired up for this game,” said Randy White, who led the Bulldogs with 18 points. “They shot the ball as well as I’ve ever seen. Mookie really set the tone by controlling his team and getting them up and down the court.”
Louisiana Tech, champions of the American South Conference, shot only 36%, compared to 49% for Oklahoma.
“I think this was the Oklahoma team that started the beginning of the year, that forced a lot of turnovers and came out with the intensity you need to win ball games like this,” King said.
Virginia 104, Middle Tennessee 88--Richard Morgan scored 33 points, and Bryant Stith added 26 as the Cavaliers pulled away in the second half for the win.
John Crotty scored 25 points for Virginia, including three key baskets late in the game that stopped spurts by Middle Tennessee (23-8). Virginia (21-10) then outscored the Blue Raiders, 15-7, in the final 4:55.
Virginia led, 49-39, at halftime and by 72-56 with 13:32 remaining, after Matt Lundin’s basket.
Kerry Hammonds’ basket and two free throws by Randy Henry pulled Middle Tennessee within 80-73 with 8:15 left, before Crotty made an eight-foot jumper and followed with a three-pointer from the top of the key. Stith added two free throws, and Virginia led, 87-73, with 7:15 remaining.
Middle Tennessee pulled within 89-81 with 5:10 to play following consecutive baskets by Gerald Harris and Henry.
Crotty then made a jumper from the lane and followed with three free throws in the next 1:39, stretching the Cavaliers’ lead to 94-81 with 3:16 left.
Henry and Chris Rainey scored 23 points each, and Hammonds finished with 22.