INDIANAPOLIS — Oregon State embraced the role of the Hickory Huskers – results and all.
Hours before their second-round NCAA Tournament game against Oklahoma State, the Beavers’ basketball Twitter account posted a video of center Roman Silva carrying guard Gianni Hunt to the basket on his shoulders to measure the rim’s height.
It recreated a scene from the 1986 movie “Hoosiers,” in which small-town Hickory’s coach tried to help his team relax about playing at massive Butler Fieldhouse. Hickory went on to win that fictional state title. On Sunday, the building now known as Hinkle Fieldhouse was the site of a real-life underdog story.
Ethan Thompson scored 26 points and No. 12 seed Oregon State neutralized Oklahoma State and star freshman Cade Cunningham, rolling to an 80-70 upset.
Oregon State (19-12) was picked to finish last in the Pac-12 and had to win the conference tournament just to make the NCAA field. The Beavers pulled that off, then cruised past No. 5 seed Tennessee in the first round. They became the third double-digit seed to reach this year’s Sweet 16, joining 15 seed Oral Roberts and Syracuse, an 11.
“We’ve always had that confidence,” Thompson said. “But it kind of took us – we had to go to take a further step and kind of believe in ourselves and trust in each other. And as you can see, these wins that we’ve been having have been great team efforts.”
Maurice Calloo, who transferred from Oklahoma State, scored 15 points and Jarod Lucas also had 15 for the Beavers, who advanced to play eighth-seeded Loyola Chicago in a Midwest Region Sweet 16 matchup that few could have predicted. Loyola overmatched No. 1 seed Illinois earlier Sunday.
Cunningham, a first-team All-American and possible top NBA draft pick, scored 24 points for Oklahoma State (21-9), but the fourth-seeded Cowboys rushed shots down the stretch and at times failed to get him the ball.
Cunningham is prepared to move on to the NBA.
“It’s been special,” Cunningham said. “I think that’s the best way to describe it. I think the biggest thing is I surrounded myself around great people, more than anything that’s the thing I’m most proud of. That’s the thing, I feel like I’ve grown up the most by being around good people who pushed me to be somebody good on the court and off the court. I’m going to miss it, for sure.”
Avery Anderson scored 16 points and Keylan Boone added 13 for Oklahoma State in a game that was delayed for 20 minutes at the start by a power outage.
Oregon State went ahead 26-15 after an early 22-6 run.
A 3-pointer by Lucas rolled out, then in to give the Beavers a 32-19 edge. Minutes later, Lucas drove and took contact, drew a foul and scored in close, energizing the Oregon State fans. His free throw pushed Oregon State’s lead to 38-22. The Beavers led 44-30 at halftime after leading by as many as 18 points.
Oklahoma State began pressuring late in the first half with some success, and it continued in the second half. Cunningham made two 3-pointers in the opening minutes – the second of which cut Oregon State’s lead to 50-42.
The Cowboys got as close as two points on a basket by Cunningham before Oregon State responded and went up 11, leading the players to exhort their fans during an Oklahoma State timeout with about five minutes to play.
Oklahoma State made one last rally. Boone hit a 3-pointer, then Cunningham stole the ball and made a 3 to trim Oregon State’s lead to 70-67 with 3:39 remaining. The Beavers pulled away at the free-throw line.
“Kind of just the same thing that’s been getting us through these past few games,” Thompson said. “Just leaning on each other, believing in ourselves. We believe that we’re capable of great things.”
People inside Hinkle Fieldhouse heard a pop as the building lost most of its power, shutting off arena lights and the scoreboard, as well as the postgame Zoom news conference for the teams after the Texas Tech-Arkansas game.
A Butler University spokesman said a car ran into a pole in an off-campus accident that led to the outage. The power switched from the main supply to the backup and back to the main, causing the lights to flicker.
There were no fans in the arena during the outage. The teams warmed up in the practice gym while the facilities teams checked the systems. The lights and power came back up quickly, with tournament officials gathering on the court before team staffers and a few players returned to the floor for the final game of the day. After that, things went on as normal.
Oregon State outrebounded Oklahoma State 52-32 and blocked 11 shots. Silva, a 7-foot-1 center, had 12 rebounds and four blocks. Dearon Tucker, a 6-10 forward, had four blocks. Warith Alatishe, a 6-7 forward, also had 12 rebounds.
Oregon State made 32 of 35 free throws off of Oklahoma State’s 29 fouls. Two Oklahoma State players – Bryce Williams and Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe – fouled out. Oregon State committed 24 fouls, and Oklahoma State made 26 of 38 free throws.