Eric Martin's six 3-pointers helped Oklahoma upset North Carolina-Charlotte 85-72 Sunday to become just the third No. 13 seed ever to advance out of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament.
The Sooners (22-10), who have insisted they deserved a higher seed, proved their point against the fifth-seeded 49ers (23-11) two days after eliminating fourth-seeded Arizona.
"I'm tired of saying they are never given the credit they are due," said coach Kelvin Sampson, whose Sooners were the last at-large team to make the NCAA field despite a second-place Big 12 finish and road wins at Oklahoma State, Missouri and Texas all of which received higher seeds.
"But you know what? Sweet 16 gives our program that credit," Sampson added. "It's validation. It gives you credibility."
Despite not having a true post player or a consistent inside game and nearly blowing a 20-point first-half lead the Sooners advanced to the round of 16 for the first time since 1989.
"Being a 13th seed, I'm sure a lot of teams looked over us," Martin said. "We've beaten great teams all year, and still, no respect. But it comes down to just playing ball no matter whether you're a one seed or a 16 seed."
The Sooners, who edged Arizona 61-60 Friday night on Ryan Humphrey's controversial tip-in for their first NCAA win since 1990, made 13 3-pointers a team postseason record.
All of Martin's 18 points came on 3s, and Eduardo Najera had four 3s and 20 points along with 15 rebounds.
Galen Young led North Carolina-Charlotte with 23 points, and Diego Guevara had 16.
Since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, the only two other No. 13 seeds to win two games wee Richmond in 1988 and Valparaiso last year.
Martin, who fouled out with 3:19 left, had five 3-pointers in the first half and four in the first seven minutes as he staked the Sooners to a 21-5 lead.
"I was really feeling it," Martin said. "Before the tournament, I was really in a bad slump. I was like six for my last 32, so my coaches worked with me and in practice told me to shoot more, more, more so I can get my confidence back. That's what I did."
"They just did a good job finding me wide open."
And Martin's shots kept finding the net.
After taking a 21-5 lead, Oklahoma went nearly six minutes without a point, but the 49ers managed just three free throws in that span. Martin ended the drought with a 25-foot 3-pointer for a 24-8 lead with 7:02 left in the half.
As Sampson said before the game, "People in Oklahoma have a term for us. It's `ugly."' Charlotte was even uglier in the first half.
The 49ers missed 18 of their first 20 shots and went more than 12 minutes without a basket after a jumper by Kenny Whitehead who started in place of center Kelvin Price (flu) put Oklahoma ahead 7-5.
"Not having Kelvin Price hurt them some," Sampson said. "It wasn't all Oklahoma. They missed him, especially early on."
With Price able to play just 23 minutes, the 49ers had no answers. They trailed by 20 before cutting it to 37-22 at halftime.
The 49ers got within seven on Kedric Smith's 3-pointer that made it 70-63 with four minutes left but blew a chance to get even closer when Jobey Thomas missed a free throw after Martin fouled out at 3:19.
The Sooners then sank 13 of 20 free throws to hold off the 49ers, who shot just 17 percent from the field in the first half.
"Five-of-29 speaks for itself," 49ers coach Bobby Lutz said.
Price vomited on the team bus and needed IVs before the game and at halftime. He finished with five points and seven rebounds.
"I knew he'd give us all that he could," Young said. "My mindset going in was still good. I still thought we could win the game. We just couldn't put the ball in the hole in the first half."
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