Lon Kruger Era Officially Begins Tonight

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
NOVEMBER 11, 2011

  Cameron Clark
 Oklahoma (0-0) vs. Idaho State (0-0)
 Date & Tip Time  Friday, Nov. 11, at 7:07 p.m. CT
 Location  Norman, Okla. | Lloyd Noble Center | Seating Views
 Tickets  $10, $20 and $30; $5 for OU students
 OU Athletics Ticket Office
 TV  Sooner Sports Network
 KAUT Ch. 43 in Oklahoma City
 COX 3 (703 HD) in Tulsa
 Radio  Sooner Radio Network 
 KOKC 1520 AM in Oklahoma City
 KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa
 Webcast  SoonerSports.com All-Access
 Live Stats  SoonerSports.com GameTracker
 Game Info  Game Notes (PDF)

Oklahoma begins its 105th season of varsity basketball when it tips off against Idaho State on Friday at 7 p.m. CT at Lloyd Noble Center.  The Sooners, under the direction of new head coach Lon Kruger, posted 85-51 and 85-59 exhibition wins over NCAA Division II opponents Northeastern State and Washburn last week, respectively.  Idaho State, which finished 9-20 last season, won its lone preseason exhibition game, 86-69, over Rocky Mountain College on Saturday.  Friday's contest will air on the Sooner Radio Network (KOKC AM 1520 in Oklahoma City; KTBZ AM 1430 in Tulsa) with Toby Rowland and Mike Houck announcing.  The game will be televised by the Sooner Sports Network (KAUT Ch. 43 in OKC; Cox Cable 3/703 in Tulsa) with Bob Carpenter and Billy Tubbs calling the action.

• Tickets are available for $10, $20 and $30 at the OU Athletics Ticket Office and online here.  Lloyd Noble Center's north and east ticket windows will open at 5 p.m. on Friday.
• OU students may purchase a ticket for $5.  OU student season tickets cost $40.

Gameday Central: OU vs. Idaho State

• Oklahoma announced Lon Kruger as its 14th head men's basketball coach on April 1.  The 2011-12 season will mark the 26th year as a collegiate head coach for Kruger, who owns a 479-304 (.612) career record.  A two-time Big Eight Conference Player of the Year at Kansas State (1973 and '74), Kruger compiled a 161-71 (.694) record the last seven seasons at UNLV, including a 127-44 (.743) mark the last five years for an average of 25.4 wins.  Oklahoma is his sixth collegiate coaching stop.  He owns a 14-13 NCAA Tournament record and is one of two coaches to lead four programs to multiple wins in the event.  Kruger coached his 1988 Kansas State team to the Elite Eight, his 1994 Florida team to the Final Four and his 2007 UNLV team to the Sweet 16.
• Kruger brought with him from UNLV assistant coaches Steve Henson and Lew Hill, as well as director of basketball operations Mike Shepherd.  Each was with Kruger for all seven years in Las Vegas.  Kruger also hired assistant coach Chris Crutchfield, who served in the same capacity the past four seasons at Oral Roberts.

OU head coach Lon Kruger announced Wednesday that junior guard Steven Pledger has been suspended by the school for Friday's season-opening game against Idaho State Friday due to impermissible participation in a pro-am game this past summer.  Pledger will be reinstated for OU's second game of the season (Nov. 18 against Coppin State).

Located in Pocatello, Idaho, Big Sky Conference member Idaho State posted a 9-20 record last year and tied for eighth in league play with a 4-12 mark.  The Bengals return six players who saw action last year, but lost three of their top four scorers.  Senior guard Kenny McGowen, who hails from McKinney, Texas, is the team's leading returning scorer at 9.3 points per game.  He made 10 starts on the season and also averaged 1.5 assists in 22.0 minutes a game.  Other returning regulars are senior guard Chase Grabau (6.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.0 apg) and senior big man Abner Moreira (5.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg).

In its lone exhibition game Nov. 5 against Rocky Mountain College, Idaho State shot .448 from the field and hit 22 of its 25 free throw attempts (.880) in an 86-69 win.  Junior center Jakub Kusmieruk scored a team-high 20 points and grabbed five rebounds in 25 minutes.  Kusmieruk, a 7-4, 265-pound transfer from Central Florida who is originally from Lodz, Poland, was 9-for-11 from the field.  Sophomore guard André Hatchett contributed 13 points and eight rebounds while Moreira added seven points and 11 boards.

The Bengals are under the direction of sixth-year head coach Joe O'Brien.  A three-time junior college national champion (2000, 2003 and 2004) as head coach at Southeastern Community College in West Burlington, Iowa, O'Brien owns a 54-97 record with the Bengals.

 Sooner to Watch 

 Romero Osby | Jr. | Forward
 • Making his OU regular season debut after transferring from Mississippi State
 • Averaged 11.5 points and 6.0 rebounds in only 18.0 minutes per game in exhibitions
 • Led team with his .714 field goal percentage (10-for-14) in exhibition play
 • A former top-75 national recruit out of high school in Mississippi


Friday's game will mark the third between Oklahoma and Idaho State, with the other two also being played in Norman.  In the 1982-83 season, Billy Tubbs' third year as OU head coach, the Sooners posted a 99-75 win behind Wayman Tisdale's 25 points and 10 rebounds.  In the third game of the 1992-93 campaign, Tubbs directed his squad to a 112-59 victory.  Jeff Webster led six Sooners in double figures with 19 points, and Bryan Sallier, Bryatt Vann and Ken Conley each recorded double-doubles.

The Sooners have won 24 of their last 26 season-opening games, with the only losses during those 26 years coming to Alabama (68-62 in New York City) in 2002-03 and Massachusetts (84-83 in Norman) in 1993-94.  OU has won 31 of its last 32 home openers.

Oklahoma has dominated home non-conference games over the last decade, winning 85 of its last 87 non-league contests inside Lloyd Noble Center going back to Jan. 3, 2000 (good for a .977 winning percentage).  Included was a streak of 49 non-conference home victories that was snapped by Villanova on Dec. 6, 2006.  The current string stands at 27 games.

The Sooners used .474 field goal and .500 (8-for-16) 3-point shooting to notch an 85-59 win over Division II Washburn on Sunday in their second and final exhibition game.  Junior guard Steven Pledger came off the bench to supply a game-high 24 points in 21 minutes with the help of a 5-for-7 performance from 3-point range.  Fellow juniors Andrew Fitzgerald and Romero Osby added 14 and 13 points, respectively, while sophomore guard Cameron Clark contributed 11 points.  Junior center Casey Arent scored only two points, but pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds, five of them offensive. 

OU jumped out to a 31-10 lead just past the midway point of the first half and was never threatened, despite committing 24 turnovers (23 of them in the game's final 28:30).  The Sooners led 42-27 at halftime, and Pledger netted 15 of his 24 points (3-for-3 from long range) after the break to help post the 26-point win.  Oklahoma posted a 49-29 rebounding advantage and held the Ichabods to .316 field goal and .158 (3-for-19) 3-point shooting marks.

Oklahoma made its exhibition debut under head coach Lon Kruger a triumphant one with its 85-51 win over Northeastern State on Nov. 1.  The Sooners jumped out to a 17-2 lead and were up 48-22 at halftime after going 6-for-11 from 3-point range.  OU outscored the RiverHawks 37-29 after halftime and finished the game with a .509 field goal mark, a .444 3-point mark (8-for-18) and a .750 free throw figure (21-for-28).  Sophomore guard Cameron Clark led six Sooners in double figures with his game-high 18 points, 16 of them in the first half.  Clark was 5-for-8 from the field and 6-for-6 from the free throw line while adding four rebounds.

Fellow sophomores Tyler Neal and Calvin Newell scored 12 each, and juniors Andrew Fitzgerald, Sam Grooms and Romero Osby all netted 10 in the 34-point victory. The 6-8, 232-pound Osby, who sat out last year after transferring from Mississippi State, paced the Sooners with eight rebounds, while junior Carl Blair came off the bench to record team highs of five assists and three steals.  OU posted a 38-32 rebounding advantage and held the RiverHawks to .321 field goal and .333 (9-for-27) 3-point marks.

• OU's 85 points each game were more than last year's season high of 84 points vs. Baylor in the Big 12 Championship first round.
• The Sooners shot .491 from the field, .471 from 3-point range (16-for-34) and .746 from the free throw line over the two games, while holding their opponents to .318 field goal and .261 (12-for-46) 3-point shooting.
• Seven different Sooners averaged at least 9.0 points in the two wins.
• OU outrebounded Northeastern State and Washburn by a 13.5 average.
• Mississippi State transfer Romero Osby shot a team-high .714 from the field (10-for-14).

Oklahoma will travel to Anaheim, Calif., later this month for the 76 Classic.  The eight-team tournament will be spread over four days (Nov. 24-27), with each squad playing three games at the Anaheim Convention Center.  It will be OU's first time in the event.

The Sooners open Thursday, Nov. ?24 (Thanksgiving Day), against Washington State (22-13 record last year; NIT semifinals) at 10:30 p.m. CT in a game televised by ESPN2.  The next day, OU will face New Mexico (22-13 last year) or Santa Clara (24-14) at either 8:30 p.m. or 11 p.m. CT on ESPN2 or ESPNU.  After a day off, Sunday's third-round game will pit the Sooners versus Boston College, Saint Louis, UC Riverside or Villanova.

The Sooners are back home against Coppin State next Friday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m. CT.  The game will be televised by the Sooner Sports Network.  OU is 14-0 all-time against the Eagles.



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