"Surely I do", veteran Roadrunners coach Rod Barnes said.

"We haven't played great the whole time, but it's not like the ship's burning", he said.

Downtown Bakersfield went mad - with March Madness - at midday Friday when Cal State Bakersfield fans gathered in assorted restaurants and watering holes to watch the men's basketball team take on Oklahoma in a first-round NCAA Tournament game. The well-named Tom Izzo is among the best coaches in the nation and senior guard Denzel Valentine is one of the best all-around players, averaging 19.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.6 assists while shooting 45 percent from deep.

Buddy is the real deal.

This from a native of Egypt, by way of Midland (Texas) College - a juco - who looked on Friday like he could play in the Big 12.

Roadrunners forward Matt Smith echoed similar sentiments, per Brunt: "He's a great player, and I feel like he just made his mind up more than he did early on because he saw his team needed that".

"Obviously we all know about Buddy", Barnes said. "I think our strength coach (Bryce Daub) got us ready from that point on, and I think we're just getting ready to play". Hield chased down a loose ball from the CSU Bakersfield end to about 15 feet beyond the arc on Oklahoma's side of the court. Woodard made a 3-pointer about a minute later and Hield followed with a stepback three to push the Sooners' lead to 10.

Hield, who added five rebounds and two blocked shots, stood tallest by exceeding his 25.0 scoring average. But CSU Bakersfield made the next two baskets, including a layup by Durham to stay within five.CSU Bakersfield jumped to an early lead by holding Oklahoma scoreless for the first two minutes.

"He's a great player", Basile said.

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"I think that was the difference in the game; there's no question about that. I mean, it was insane out there".

"I had to make up for it", Hield said of his goof. Teams are going to keep fighting. The Sooners were a poor 15 of 25 from the free-throw line for 60 percent. This will be the team's return to Bakersfield since their season-ending loss to Oklahoma Sooners at the NCAA Tournament.

Teams like the Roadrunners, a No. 15 seed, are not burdened by external expectations.

There was no upset in Oklahoma City.

During this 30th anniversary season of the 3-point shot in college, the Sooners Friday topped 800 3-point attempts for the first time in Kruger's coaching career.

Part of the beauty of the opening week of the NCAA Tournament is all the unknowns.

This is what's known as trying to win the mind game. So it was definitely tough to get going. The four have started 100 games together at Oklahoma. "That's quite a task". Their 3-point shooting also dipped from 46.1 percent to 35.8 percent.

Although some players downplayed the body clock issue, guard Stephen Thompson said: "It might have played a little bit of a factor". The Roadrunners stayed close for much of the first half. It isn't just Hield - Cousins, Woodward and Spangler will all make big shots throughout games in March.


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