Sooners play their first NCAA Tournament game since 2009 Friday night at 8:20 CT in Philadelphia.
||Senior Forward Andrew Fitzgerald
Making its 27th NCAA Tournament appearance and first under second-year head coach Lon Kruger, Oklahoma (20-11 overall, 11-7 Big 12 Conference) enters Friday's second-round game against San Diego State (22-10 overall, 9-7 Mountain West Conference) as the South Region's No. 10 seed. The contest, which will be played at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa., will start at approximately 8:20 p.m. CDT. San Diego State is the region's No. 7 seed.
Should it advance to third-round play, Oklahoma will face the winner of Friday's (No. 2 seed) Georgetown versus (No. 15 seed) Florida Gulf Coast University game on Sunday. The Hoyas sport a 25-6 record while the Eagles are 24-10. Also in Philadelphia participating in the Midwest Region are No. 2 seed Duke, No. 7 seed Creighton, No. 10 seed Cincinnati and No. 15 seed Albany.
ON THE AIR
All of OU's NCAA Tournament games will air live on the Sooner Radio Network (KOKC AM 1520 in Oklahoma City; KTBZ AM 1430 in Tulsa) with Toby Rowland (play-by-play) and Mike Houck (analyst) calling the action. Friday's game will be televised nationally by TBS with Kevin Harlan, Len Elmore, Reggie Miller and Lewis Johnson announcing. It will also air on the Dial Global/NCAA Radio Network (Sirius 85; XM 85) with Scott Graham and John Thompson on the call.
OKLAHOMA AND THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
OU is making its 27th NCAA Tournament appearance (36-26 all-time record), 14th in the last 19 years and 23rd in the last 31 seasons (first since 2009).
The Sooners have made four Final Four appearances (1939, 1947, 1988 and 2002). They played in the 1947 and 1988 national championship games.
Oklahoma is 12-6 in its last six NCAA Tournaments, with a Final Four showing in 2002 and Elite Eight appearances in 2003 and 2009.
Romero Osby is the only active player on OU's roster who has NCAA Tournament experience. As a Mississippi State freshman in 2009, Osby finished with three points, two rebounds and a steal (12 minutes) in a 71-58 first-round loss to Washington.
The Sooners are 3-2 as participants in the South Region. They lost a 2001 first-round game to Indiana State (70-68 in OT in Memphis) and advanced to the Elite Eight in 2009 (lost to eventual national champion North Carolina, 72-60, in Memphis).
KRUGER AND THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
With this year's berth, Lon Kruger is the first head coach in history to take five Division I programs to the NCAA Tournament (Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, UNLV and Oklahoma). Coaches who have taken four programs to the Big Dance are current mentors John Beilein, Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith, and former head men Lefty Driesell, Jim Harrick, Tom Penders and Eddie Sutton.
This marks Kruger's 14th NCAA Tournament appearance as a head coach. He owns a 14-13 record and is 8-5 in first-round games (his teams have won five of their last seven tournament openers). In his last coaching stop at UNLV, Kruger took the Runnin' Rebels to the NCAA Tournament in four of his final five seasons there.
Kruger is one three coaches to ever direct four programs to at least one NCAA Tournament win. The others are Harrick and Sutton.
Kruger has coached three programs to the Sweet 16 or beyond (only Pitino, Smith, John Calipari and Bill Self have also done it). He took Kansas State to the 1988 Elite Eight, Florida to the 1994 Final Four and UNLV to the 2007 Sweet 16.
Kruger participated in the 1972 and '73 NCAA Tournaments as a player at Kansas State and helped the Wildcats to regional final (Elite Eight) appearances both seasons. K-State went 1-1 in 1972 when Kruger was the Big Eight sophomore of the year (beat Texas 66-55 before losing 72-65 to Louisville). The Wildcats again went 1-1 in 1973 when Kruger was the Big Eight player of the year (beat Louisiana-Lafayette 66-63 before falling 92-72 to Memphis).
| Sooner to Watch
Romero Osby | Sr. | Forward
Has led the team (or tied for the lead) in scoring in 14 of its last 19 games
In Big 12 play, led the league in field goals (109) while ranking second in scoring (17.8 ppg)
Is averaging 21.5 points and 8.1 rebounds in the last eight contests
Is the only active OU player with NCAA Tourney experience, with Missisippi State in 2009
OKLAHOMA AGAINST THIS YEAR'S NCAA FIELD
The Sooners played 11 games against 2013 NCAA Tournament teams and went 4-7. The wins came against No. 1 seed Kansas, No. 5 seed Oklahoma State, No. 10 seed Iowa State and No. 14 seed Northwestern State. The losses came to Kansas and fellow No. 1 seed Gonzaga, No. 4 seed Kansas State (twice), Oklahoma State and Iowa State (twice).
Both Kansas and Northwestern State are in the South Regional with OU.
OU VS. POSSIBLE PHILADELPHIA OPPONENTS
Oklahoma is 3-0 all-time against San Diego State. The Sooners won the first meeting 92-57 on Dec. 7, 1973, in the Creighton Cage Classic in Omaha, Neb. Tom Holland led OU with 20 points while future fourth overall NBA draft pick Alvan Adams contributed 14 points and nine rebounds. Just 29 days later (Jan. 5), the Sooners posted a 91-66 home victory over the Aztecs. Adams set a still-standing OU record by going 11-for-11 from the field and finished with 27 points and 16 boards. The following season, Oklahoma escaped with a 79-74 Jan. 2 overtime win at San Diego State. Adams, who paced OU with 27 points on the day, went a combined 30-for-43 (.698) from the field in the three games. Joe Ramsey served as OU head coach for just two seasons but was on the Sooner sideline for all three contests.
OU has never met Georgetown or Florida Gulf Coast University in men's basketball.
10 THINGS TO KNOW
Oklahoma is making its 27th NCAA Tournament appearance but its first in the last four years (OU posted losing records in its last three seasons). This is the Sooners' 14th appearance in the Big Dance in the last 19 years, and 23rd in the last 31 seasons.
This marks OU's 28th postseason appearance in the last 32 years (23 NCAA Tournaments, five NITs). The Sooners' nation-leading streak of 25 consecutive postseason appearances came to an end in 2007.
Oklahoma is 0-2 all-time as an NCAA Tournament No. 10 seed. The Sooners lost 61-43 to Temple in 1996 in Orlando, Fla. (Southeast Region), and dropped a 94-87 overtime decision to Indiana in 1998 in Washington, D.C. (East Region).
OU is 6-4 in its last 10 games. In three of those four losses, the Sooners trailed for a total of 3 minutes and 2 seconds out 60 minutes of second-half action. They were never behind in the second half of overtime road losses to Oklahoma State (Feb. 16) and Texas (Feb. 27), and fell behind for the first time in last Thursday's Big 12 quarterfinals game against Iowa State with 3:19 remaining. OU led by five with 3:10 to go in the second half at OSU, by 22 with 7:38 remaining in the second half at Texas, and by 12 with 7:25 left against Iowa State. It held double-digit second-half leads in all three contests.
Over their last last 10 games, OU has trailed for a total of just 66 minutes and 28 seconds out of 410 total minutes (that's 16 percent of game time). It trailed for 3 minutes and 2 seconds or less in seven of those 10 games and was never behind in four of them.
In Big 12 play, OU ranked in the top four of the league in scoring offense (second at 73.6 ppg), field goal percentage (fourth at .451), free throw percentage (first at .774, rebounding margin (second at +2.4) and turnover margin (third at +0.7).
Four games ago against Iowa State, OU tied an NCAA record for most free throw attempts without a miss by going 34-for-34. The Sooners lead the Big 12 and rank 10th nationally with their .760 season free throw mark (school record is .767 in 2001-02) and shot a league-best .774 in Big 12 play. In Big 12 home games, OU shot a gaudy .857 from the foul line.
The Sooners have led at halftime in nine of the last 10 games. The halftime advantages in those nine games were 4 vs. Kansas, 25 vs. TCU, 8 at Oklahoma State, 8 at Texas Tech, 26 vs. Baylor, 15 at Texas, 12 vs. Iowa State, 11 vs. West Virginia and 8 vs. Iowa State.
While head coach at UNLV from the 2004-05 through 2010-11 seasons, Lon Kruger posted a 5-13 record against San Diego State.
First-team All-Big 12 selection Romero Osby has led the team (or tied for the lead) in scoring in 14 of its last 19 games and reached double figures in 18 of those 19. In Big 12 play, the senior forward led the league in field goals (109) while ranking second in scoring (17.8 ppg), third in field goal percentage (.540) and fifth in rebounding (7.3 rpg) and free throw percentage (.776). He has scored at least 17 points in each the last eight outings and is averaging 21.5 points and 8.1 rebounds during the stretch.
PREVIEWING SAN DIEGO STATE
San Diego State tied for fourth place in the Mountain West Conference with a 9-7 league mark and enters NCAA Tournament play with a 22-10 overall record. The Aztecs went 1-1 in the MWC Tournament, beating Boise State 73-67 before losing 60-50 to New Mexico in the semifinals. They began the year 11-1 (won 11 in a row) and have gone 11-9 since. SDSU posted a 14-1 home record (lone loss was to UNLV by seven) and went 8-9 away from home.
The Aztecs are making their school-record fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance and ninth overall. They own a 2-8 record in the Big Dance. Both of their wins came two years ago when they advanced to the Sweet 16 (beat Northern Colorado and Temple before losing to Connecticut).
Junior guard Jamaal Franklin leads the team with his 16.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game. A two-time first-team All-Mountain West pick, he was the only player in the league to rank in the top three in scoring, rebounds and steals in the regular season. Franklin scored in double figures in all 16 conference games and has netted at least 20 points nine times on the year. He has attempted 220 free throws (the next highest total on the team is 95) and is shooting .771 at the line.
Senior guard Chase Tapley was named to the All-Mountain West Third Team and averages 13.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.4 steals. He has made a team-high 66 3-pointers on the year (2.1 per game) and is shooting a team-best .379 from behind the arc.
Junior guard Xavier Thames averages 9.8 points and 2.2 assists. He ranks third on the team with his 35 3-point makes (shooting .361) and has teamed with Franklin and Tapley to can 139 of the squad's 188 treys on the year (74 percent).
Steve Fisher is in his 14th year as SDSU's head coach and owns a 280-170 record. He is in his 22nd year overall and is 464-252 in his career. He coached Michigan to the 1989 national title (Oklahoma was a No. 1 seed that year but did not face the Wolverines).
MASTER OF THE TURNAROUND
Taking a truly unique career path, OU head coach Lon Kruger has positioned himself as perhaps the greatest change agent in college basketball history. What makes Kruger's 500-plus career wins and NCAA Tournament trips with five different programs even more impressive than they may first seem is the condition of the six programs when they hired him and the rebuilding jobs he faced at each. In the year before his arrival as head coach at Texas-Pan American, Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, UNLV and Oklahoma, the schools combined for a 78-99 record (.441). Kruger's teams went a combined 92-89 (.508) in his first year at those schools, 117-71 (.622) in his second year, 91-64 (.587) in his third year and 115-49 (.697) in his fourth season. He directed all six programs to 20-win campaigns and took each of the last five to the NCAA Tournament or NIT by his second year.
If Oklahoma wins two games in Philadelphia it will head to Arlington, Texas (Cowboys Stadium) for the South Regional semifinals (Sweet 16) on Friday, March 29.