For the North Dakota State Bison to knock off the Oklahoma Sooners in the Round of 64 of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, everyone knew that they were going to need one individual to step up and have a monster game that propelled them forward as the 12th seed in the West Region.
Given their need for a strong individual performance, you had to assume that senior guard Taylor Braun would be the guy that they’d turn to. Averaging 18.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game on 49.1 percent shooting on the year, Braun had been the leader for this team all season.
However, Braun struggled against Oklahoma. Turning the ball over four times before eventually fouling out, Braun scored just 11 points on only 3011 shooting from the floor. Instead it was junior guard Lawrence Alexander that eventually took the Bison to the shoe store to get fitted for their glass slipper.
For the season, Alexander averaged a mere 10.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game while shooting an unimpressive 42.7 percent from the floor. On Thursday, though, Alexander absolutely took it to the Sooners as he led North Dakota State in points (28), rebounds (8), and assists (4), all while shooting a fiery 10-15 from the floor. Moreover, it was Alexander’s three near the end of regulation that force overtime where the Bison were able to seal the upset by a score of 80-75.
Up next for the upstart Bison is a San Diego State team that needed overtime to knock off New Mexico State in a back-and-forth struggle. The Aztecs are certainly beatable, which has to have the Bison thinking about a run to the Sweet 16. The Bison will need someone to come up with a big individual effort again, though, whether that’s Alexander again or the more expected Braun. Either way, don’t count out the possibility of the Bison still dancing after this weekend.