Kruger Returns to Kansas State Saturday

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
JANUARY 27, 2012

By Andrew Gilman |
NORMAN, Okla. -- Lon Kruger said if the Kansas State crowd boos his team Saturday in Manhattan, Kan., he probably won't even hear it.

Kruger says he's concerning himself with making sure his Sooners get a win, but there's another story, too.

It's Kruger's first trip back to Kansas State to coach against the program he played and coached for.

"I grew up there, went to school there and am a huge fan of Kansas State," he said. "It's exciting to go back and see people we've known a long time, but the only thing that's really important is the ball game and our guys lining up and playing as well as they can."

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As a player, Kruger led the Wildcats to back-to-back Big Eight Conference titles in 1972 and 1973. He was the conference player of the year in 1973 and 1974 and averaged 13.3 points per game for his career. As a coach for the Wildcats, he went 81-46 in four seasons and went to the NCAA tournament each year, including a trip to the Elite Eight in 1988.

And as a guest Saturday?

"I don't know if I'm going to concern myself with all of that," Kruger said. "We just want to play hard."

The Sooners are certainly going to have to do more than just play hard. Since beating Kansas State in Norman, the Sooners have gone 1-2 in the Big 12 Conference and sit 12-7 overall and 2-5 in league play. Meanwhile, you have to figure Kansas State will be out for some revenge. The Wildcats are ranked No. 22 and have won three in a row since the loss to OU. Kansas State is 15-4 and 4-3 in the conference.

"We have to do a better job defensively and get key rebounds and key stops," Kruger said. "Guys understand that and know that."

OU was dominated on the boards against Kansas State in Norman but got the win because the Sooners shot 55 percent in the 82-73 victory.

"That reference point is there," Kruger said of the win over K-State. "We shot the ball well and executed well. When you play someone once, you take what you liked and try to repeat it."

Undoubtedly, Kruger will be reliving some old times, visiting with friends and talking old times. He won't be the only Sooner, either. Oklahoma assistant coach Steve Henson is K-State's career leader in assists and free throw percentage, and OU director of operations Mike Shepherd was a team manager for Kruger at K-State.

"Once the game starts, it's the same court we play on every day," Kruger said. "All that other staff will happen when you're talking before the game."



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