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Thomas leads Oklahoma past Albany

Mar 21, 2015 - 5:38 AM Columbus, OH ( - TaShawn Thomas scored 18 points and Oklahoma held off Albany, advancing to the third round of the NCAA Tournament with a 69-60 win.

Thomas, a transfer in his first season with the Sooners, shot 7-for-11 and added four blocks in the win. Buddy Hield netted 15 points and Ryan Spangler pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.

"This is my first time being in the tournament, and it just feels so good right now to get the first win," Thomas said. "I feel ecstatic right now."

The win helps the reputation of the Big 12, at least in the short term. The conference took a hit after all three teams in action on Thursday -- including No. 3 seeds Baylor and Iowa State -- were upset.

The Big 12 went 3-1 on Friday, with Kansas and West Virginia also advancing.

Third-seeded Oklahoma (23-10), which lost a heart-breaker to Iowa State a week ago in the Big 12 Tournament, will meet Dayton on Sunday with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line.

Aussie Peter Hooley, whose late 3-pointer gave Albany (24-9) its win over Stony Brook in the America East title game, scored 15 points to lead a balanced scoring effort in this one. Evan Singletary added 13 points, Sam Rowley had 12 and Ray Sanders posted 11 points, seven boards and four assists.

"This whole season has been special in good and bad ways," said Rowley. "We've been through a lot this year. We've become a lot closer for it."

Oklahoma never trailed, using timely baskets in the first half to keep the Great Danes at arm's length. Albany made 12 field goals over the opening 20 minutes, and Oklahoma scored on the other end after nine of them.

Ray Sanders' 3-pointer just before halftime had Albany within seven and looked to give the underdogs some momentum heading into the locker room, but Jordan Woodard raced down the floor and beat the buzzer with a difficult layup.

Frank Booker scored five straight during a 7-0 run midway through the second half that gave Oklahoma its biggest lead, 52-40.

Albany gradually chipped away from there, getting within six following Singletary's triple with four minutes left. It was six with under two minutes left when Spangler secured the game's biggest rebound, an offensive board that helped the Sooners burn more than a minute off the clock.

Woodard and Spangler both made two free throws in the final minute to seal it.

Game Notes

Oklahoma hadn't won an NCAA Tournament game since 2009 ... Albany had won six straight games.