The Sooners are dancing again. Oklahoma is the No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament's West Region and will take on No. 12 seed North Dakota State on Thursday at 6:27 p.m. CT in Spokane, Wash.
This is OU's 28th NCAA Tournament appearance and 16th as a No. 5 seed or higher. The Sooners have made 24 NCAA Tournament appearances since 1983, second most among Big 12 schools (behind only Kansas).
Visit this page for periodic information, photo and video updates of the Sooners while they're in Spokane. Fans can also follow the team on Twitter and Instagram to get instant updates from inside the huddle.
Sooners' Season Ends in Spokane
Posted Thursday, March 20 at 10:42 p.m. PT
Oklahoma outscored North Dakota State 36-18 from 3-point range and attempted 21 more field goals on the night, but saw its season come to an end with an 80-75 overtime loss. The Sooners were up by four points with 31 seconds left in regulation but a couple of missed free throws allowed the Bison to force the extra session two possessions later on a Lawrence Alexander 3-pointer. Cameron Clark led OU with 25 points while Isaiah Cousins finished with 17 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Game highlights below and SoonerSports.tv's postgame report here. The Sooners finished the year with a 23-10 record, their best in five seasons.
Five Reasons the Sooners Will Win
Posted Thursday, March 20 at 2:32 p.m. PT
Sooner Sports TV's Jessica Coody provides five reasons to feel good about picking the Sooners to win vs. North Dakota State tonight. The team is preparing to head to Spokane Arena. Make sure you follow us on Twitter and Instagram for the latest.
Posted Thursday, March 20 at 6:03 a.m. PT by Mike Houck
Regardless of what happens this evening in Spokane, the 2013-14 season has exceeded the expectations of even the most ardent Sooner supporters.
Go back to March of last year, immediately after the Sooners lost to San Diego State in their opening-round NCAA Tournament game. Not only did OU lose to the Aztecs, it was about to lose its top two scorers in seniors Romero Osby (a first-team All-Big 12 selection) and Steven Pledger (the second most prolific 3-point shooter in school history).
Even with the graduation of those two players, hopes were relatively high for 2013-14 with the return of starters Amath M'Baye, Buddy Hield and Je'lon Hornbeak, all newcomers to the program last year.
But then M'Baye, the team's third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder, decided to turn pro. All of a sudden, OU's prospects for another journey to the NCAA Tourney seemed to take a huge hit.
That's what makes this year's 23-9 record and outright second-place Big 12 finish all the more impressive. Nobody outside the program thought this could happen. The Sooners were picked to finish in fifth place (tied with Kansas State) in the Big 12 Preseason Coaches Poll. And that was generous compared to most preseason predictions. The majority of summer print and online prognosticators had the Sooners slotted for sixth place or lower, and certainly watching the NCAA Tournament from home in Norman.
"Last summer we had a lot of people who didn't believe in us because we were young and we lost a lot of guys," said sophomore Ryan Spangler, who leads the Big 12 in rebounding at 9.4 per game. "I think that motivated us to get in the gym and work hard. We went to Europe, got better over there. Came back and stayed in the gym, learned how to play together and here we are."
Here we are, indeed. In Spokane. In the NCAA Tournament. As a No. 5 seed. What a season for the Sooners.
Photo Gallery Update
Posted Wednesday, March 19 at 8:39 p.m. PT
An update to our Facebook gallery from our practice & media availability at Spokane Arena has been made. Check out the full day of action for the Sooners:
Sooner Sports TV Practice Report
Posted Wednesday, March 19 at 6:06 p.m. PT
The latest from Spokane as OU prepares for Thursday's game against North Dakota State:
Bird Letting Nothing Stand in His Way
Posted Wednesday, March 19 at 2:57 p.m. PT
A team manager for the Sooners, David Bird has spent his whole life pursuing his dreams and overcoming all of the challenges that have come his way. Check out the feature from Sooner Sports TV below:
PHOTOS: Day Two in Spokane
Posted Wednesday, March 19 at 2:31 p.m. PT
The Sooners have returned to the team hotel following their first practice Wednesday in Spokane & full photo coverage is available on our Facebook page. The photo gallery will be updated throughout the day as OU heads to Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena for media availability & practice later today.
Scouting North Dakota State
Posted Wednesday, March 19 at 1:24 p.m. PT by Mike Houck
Safe to say, not many OU fans knew much about North Dakota State when the Bison were announced as the Sooners' Thursday night NCAA Tournament opponent. All that was known was the team's No. 12 seed and 25-6 record.
And if that's still all you know, then you better keep reading. Because North Dakota State is good. Really good.
Coach Saul Phillips' squad won the Summit League's regular season and conference titles. It has claimed victory in each of its last nine games, 14 of its last 15 and 18 of its last 20. It's a veteran group. The top three scorers are seniors.
Guard Taylor Braun is a 6-foot-7, 210-pound do-everything guy who leads the team in scoring (18.2 ppg), rebounding (5.5 rpg), assists (3.9 apg), steals (1.6 spg) and 3-point field goal percentage (.441). Senior forward Marshall Bjorklund patrols the paint, averaging 13.4 points and 4.3 boards while shooting a nation-best 63.6 percent from the floor.
The Bison are shooting 50.9 percent from the floor on the season, ranking first out of 345 NCAA Division I teams.
"They're a very smart, physical, blue-collar basketball team," said OU head coach Lon Kruger, "and they all shoot it well. They're bigger than us. They can score but they can also be very patient offensively. They're a very fundamentally sound man-to-man defensive team, pack it in pretty tight and don't give you anything easy in the paint.
"From watching film, our guys respect how good they are and know we'll have to play well to have a chance to win. It's a tough matchup."
FACEBOOK: Live Q&A with Ryan Spangler
Posted Wednesday, March 19 at 11:03 a.m. PT
Sophomore forward Ryan Spangler will answer your questions via the Oklahoma Sooners Men's Basketball Facebook page tonight at 7:45 PT (9:45 CT) before film. You can leave your questions for Spangler on this post on Facebook and he will respond this evening. Boomer!
Kruger One of a Kind
Posted Wednesday, March 19 at 9:08 a.m. PT by Mike Houck
You've got to hand it to Lon Kruger. After OU endured three straight losing seasons, the third-year Sooners coach has guided the program to a 43-21 record over the last two campaigns, with 20 wins last year and 23 more so far this season.
But this shouldn't come as a surprise. This is what Kruger does. He takes over proud-but-struggling programs and almost immediately restores respectability -- and thensome.
Last year he became the first coach to take five different programs to the NCAA Tournament. Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, UNLV, Oklahoma. Now he's taken each of those squads to the Big Dance at least twice. How's that for accomplishment?
And if the Sooners beat North Dakota State on Thursday, he'll have won at least one NCAA Tournament game at each of those five schools.
"The proof's in the pudding with Coach Kruger," said senior Tyler Neal this morning. "I think he's different from a lot of coaches in that he's very personable, and he and his assistants create an open environment that makes us players want to be around the gym a lot. That's how they're able to get the most out of us. His off-the-court personality is one of my favorite things about him. You just always feel comfortable around him and I've been really happy to play for him."
There aren't many around like Lon Kruger. Check that. There aren't any.
PHOTOS: From Norman to Spokane
Posted Tuesday, March 18 at 6:11 p.m. PT
Want to follow the Sooners from the Lloyd Noble Center to team headquarters in Spokane, Wash.? Click here or on James Fraschilla below for complete photo coverage from the 1,700+ mile journey as fans gathered at the LNC to wish the team well before the Sooners took off.
Sooners Arrive in Spokane
Posted Tuesday, March 18 at 5:09 p.m. PT by Mike Houck
Following a late-morning practice at their Lloyd Noble Center practice gym, the Sooners made their way to Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City where they boarded a Southwest Airlines charter for a three-hour flight to Spokane, Wash., site of their Thursday NCAA Tournament second-round game against North Dakota State.
The 135-seat plane was packed to the gills with players, coaches, athletics staff, band and spirit members, fans and media.
OU, the No. 5 seed in the West Region, arrived at Spokane International Airport at 3:07 p.m. PT and headed straight to the team hotel, where it will rest until dinner and tonight's team video session. Wednesday's schedule includes a morning practice at a local prep school, late afternoon press conferences and another practice at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena (4:25-5:05 PT).
Thursday's game against No. 12 seed North Dakota State will start at 6:27 p.m. CT and be televised by truTV. Spero Dedes (play-by-play), Doug Gottlieb (analyst) and Jaime Maggio (reporter) will announce. If OU wins it will play Saturday against No. 4 seed San Diego State or No. 13 seed New Mexico State. Time of that game is to be determined.