Tag Archives: Oklahoma basketball

OU snaps KSU’s win streak, 63-60

28 Jan

Lon Kruger had coached and won against his alma mater in the past, just never at Bramlage Coliseum. That changed Saturday night, when Oklahoma eked out a 63-60 victory over No. 22 Kansas State.

Steven Pledger scored 30 points to lift the Sooners to their second win over Kansas State this season. Cameron Clark added 11 points.

“The win is great, but much more important, I thought we showed a little more toughness, a little more fight, a little more competitiveness than we have,” Kruger said. “I’m really happy for our guys with the outcome.”

The Sooners’ lead oscillated between three points and one point as the teams traded free throws in the final minutes of the game. Rodney McGruder got a long 3-pointer off before the buzzer, but it was no good.

Kansas State turned the ball over 20 times and made just 3 of 17 attempts from beyond the arc. While coach Frank Martin credited Oklahoma’s defense, he also acknowledged the Wildcats’ struggles.

“They’re a physical team,” he said. “Defensively, we held our ground. Offensively, we didn’t.”

The Sooners took a 38-28 lead less than two minutes into the second half, but the Wildcats scored five straight baskets in a 12-2 run that culminated in back-to-back pull-up jumpers from McGruder to tie the game at 42.

“We’d been in a little bit of foul trouble all night,” Kruger said. “It made us play a little bit more zone there in the second half.”

A pair of free throws from Will Spradling gave the Wildcats a 44-42 lead midway through the second half. It was the first time Oklahoma had trailed since another Spradling bucket put Kansas State up 24-23 at the 3:44 mark of the first half.

After McGruder’s free throws gave Kansas State a 48-45 advantage, the Sooners went on a 10-3 run to take a 55-51 lead with 4 minutes to play.

Free throws from Jamar Samuels and a 3-pointer by McGruder pulled Kansas State to within 57-56 with less than 2 minutes remaining.

Two free throws by Pledger restored the Sooners’ three-point lead, but a slicing drive to the rim by Spradling got the Wildcats’ back within one with 30 seconds to play.

After Kansas State turned it over, Romero Osby swished two free throws to make it a 61-58 game with less than 10 seconds remaining. The Sooners fouled Jordan Henriquez on purpose and he made two free throws to get back within 61-60, but Sam Grooms answered with two foul shots of his own and McGruder’s 3-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the rim.

“If you want to compete for a conference championship, you can’t lose at home,” said Martin, who bemoaned his team missing out on a chance to put themselves in upper echelon of the Big 12.

“We had a great opportunity today to solidify ourselves at the top third of the league.”

The Wildcats led by as many as six points in the first half, but an 11-4 blitz by Oklahoma before halftime gave the Sooners a 34-28 lead going into the break. The Wildcats could not find an answer for Pledger, who scored 18 in the first 20 minutes.

The series of plays that inspired the late run by Oklahoma came 3 minutes before the break.

Carl Blair stole the ball and placed it perfectly for a soaring Clark to slam it and put the Sooners up 27-24. A stunningly similar alley-oop by Clark moments later gave Oklahoma a four-point lead with 1:30 to go until halftime.

A traditional three-point play by McGruder _ his second of the half _ got the Wildcats within one, but a pair of free throws by Osby and yet another bucket from Pledger gave his team a six-point lead after 20 minutes.

“Tonight I think you saw a team that wanted to win _ period,” Grooms said. “Just wanted to win, whatever we had to do, from boxing out, to rebounding, to talking on defense, just being a team.”

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Big 12 Farewell – Basketball Edition

29 Mar

As the elimination of Kansas by Virginia Commonwealth snuffed out the last hope of the Big 12 conference being represented in the 2011 Final Four, here’s a look at the seasons of all the teams in the league. Collectively, the five Big 12 teams given March Madness berths went went 5-5 in this year’s tournament. Keep in mind: this which just ended is the last season that the Big 12 will have 12 teams, at least for the foreseeable future, as Nebraska is leaving for the Big 10 and Colorado is joining the Pac-10.

Kansas: 3-1 in the NCAA tournament, 14-2 Big 12, 35-3 overall In four games of March Madness, the Jayhawks, a  No. 1 seed, never faced a team seeded higher than 9. In the first round, they played 16-seed Boston University, then moved on to face 9-seed Illinois. Because of upsets elsewhere in its region, Kansas faced 12-seed Richmond and then 11-seed Virginia Commonwealth. It looked like the easiest possible route to another national championship. Enter the most colossal upset of the tournament so far. Of course, the Jayhawks are still the Jayhawks, and if the Morris twins stick around for their senior season, the team could make it as far or farther in 2012.

Texas: 1-1 in the NCAA tournament, 13-3 Big 12, 28-8 overall The Longhorns escaped the distinction of being an early upset with an 85-81 victory over 13-seed Oakland but lost in the waning seconds of its next game, a one-point heartbreaker against Arizona. There was discussion of a questionable call at the end of the game, but here’s my take on that: How many free throws did Texas miss? How many shots did Texas miss? How many turnovers did Texas commit? Each one of those was a missed opportunity. If those had been taken advantage of, the game might not have needed to come down to the final play anyway. While there are certainly bad calls on occasion, officiating is never an excuse for losing, in my opinion. Next season, Texas will be a younger team, as year’s squad had five seniors, but with the leadership of Rick Barnes and the older players that remain, the Longhorns will likely be a tournament team again in 2012.

Texas A&M: 0-1 in the NCAA tournament, 10-6 Big 12, 24-9 overall The Aggies had a very nice season, getting off to a 16-1 start. In Big 12 play, though, the team went on several skids when faced with competition from the better half of the league. It lost four of five games through January and early February, and it lost four of six to end the season. Texas A&M received a bid to the tournament but lost to 10-seed Florida State in the first round. There’s potential here; it will be interesting to see whether the Aggies can continue the momentum of this season with a repeat performance in six months or so.

Kansas State: 1-1 in the NCAA tournament, 10-6 Big 12, 23-11 overall It’s hard to describe the Wildcats’ season without using the roller coaster cliche, considering the team began the season ranked No. 3 in the country and then completely fell out of the rankings as the team’s seniors were suspended, two players quit the team, and K-State started the conference schedule 1-4 … only to rebound with a six-game winning streak to finish the season and receive a 5-seed in the Big Dance. There will be questions about next year’s team, as it will be without Jacob Pullen for the first time in four years, but there were questions about this year’s team, too, and it didn’t turn out badly.

Missouri: 0-1 in the NCAA tournament, 8-8 Big 12, 23-11 overall The “Will he stay or will he go?”  merry-go-round has finally ground to a halt in Columbia. Head coach Mike Anderson declined a contract extension from the school in favor of taking the same job at the University of Arkansas, where the coach spent 17 years as an assistant under Nolan Richardson and won a national championship in 1994. Leaving gracefully is a hard thing to do, and whether Anderson did so is hard to say. At least, though, he will be somewhere he wants to be, and Missouri can move on to a coach who definitely wants to be in Columbia and is not distracted by the possibilities of going elsewhere.

Colorado: 8-8 Big 12, 24-13 overall The Buffaloes have been recognized as one of those teams – every year, it’s the same story – that should have been included in the tournament field but was not. They beat Kansas State three times this season, and they also vanquished Texas and Missouri – all of whom made it into the tournament easily. If you look at the Colorado home page on ESPN.com, you’ll see a video clip labeled “Dick Vitale on the teams snubbed by the NCAA tournament” and articles in the news section with titles like “How to improve tourney selection process.” More than likely, being a No. 1 seed in the NIT was little consolation. If head coach Tad Boyle and next year’s team (minus the six seniors it had this season) continue on this way, I’d be surprised if the Buffaloes get left out of the tourney in 2012.

Nebraska: 7-9 Big 12, 19-13 overall The Huskers also had an up-and-down season, and like the Wildcats, they struggled some on the road and were nearly unbeatable at home. In Nebraska’s last seven games of this season, it played two ranked teams – Texas and Missouri. It won both those games … but lost the other four. The Huskers lived up to that Big 12 stereotype of being able to beat any team on any given day, but it didn’t happen often enough.

Baylor: 7-9 Big 12, 18-13 overall The Bears had two wins over ranked opponents this season … only it was really just one opponent, Texas A&M, whom they beat in overtime in College Station and by seven points in Waco. Baylor’s on-court issues mirrored those off the court. There was LaceDarius Dunn, mentioned in conjunction with assault (later cleared by a grand jury), and just recently it was decided by the NCAA that freshman Perry Jones -who averaged 13.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game this season – will have to miss five games at the beginning of next season if he stays. While the Baylor administration is arguing that it’s getting a raw dealer (see Cam Newton), it is what it is. It could be awhile before the Bears can piece together a decent season.

Oklahoma State: 6-10 Big 12, 20-14 overall For all their struggles, the Cowboys came within four points of a five-game winning streak to end the season. They beat Texas Tech and Baylor in Stillwater, lost 64-61 at Oklahoma, defeated Nebraska 53-52 back in Stillwater, and finished out the regular season with a loss to Kansas by a single point, 63-62, in Lawrence. Tiny-but-mighty guard Keiton Page will be the team’s only senior next season, and five players will be juniors, so depending on who gets playing time, the youth of the team might lead to some inconsistencies.

Texas Tech: 5-11 Big 12, 13-19 overall Honestly, I really like Pat Knight. Having talked to him at Big 12 media day in Kansas City and listened to him at K-State post game press conference this season, I think he has some serious understanding of the game of basketball. With that said, he stated at the beginning of this season that after three seasons, it was a “get-an-extension or get-fired type of year” for him.We all know how that ended, and now Billy Gillispie has signed a five-year deal as head coach of the Red Raiders. According to an ESPN report on the hiring, Gillispie has a good reputation in Texas because before he coached at Kentucky, he helped rebuild the programs of UTEP and Texas A&M. However, he has had his share of problems – if he gets a fourth DUI, as ESPN college basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb pointed out, his five-year stay with the Red Raiders could be much shorter.

Oklahoma: 5-11 Big 12, 14-18 overall The Sooners’ season ended with a 20-point loss to then-No. 10 Texas, and head coach Jeff Capel was promptly fired. Blake Griffin, recruited by Capel and now an NBA star because of his incredible dunks, contacted ESPN.com to express his feelings about the matter, saying that while he did not profess to know everything about basketball, he recognized Capel as a great coach and felt the university made a mistake by firing him.

Iowa State: 3-13 Big 12, 16-16 By the record, there is no recourse but to assume the Cyclones were bad this year. Maybe more than bad; 3-13 sounds more like it fits into the category of “awful.” If you dig just a bit deeper though, you see a glimmer of hope. Three of Iowa State’s Big 12 games went into overtime; many more the Cyclones lost by single digits. It was head coach Fred Hoiberg’s first season, and the team still challenged the vast majority of its opponents; it wasn’t like the Cyclones rolled over for anyone. It may take a couple years (especially with a considerable number of players graduating now) but this team could be a sleeper down the road.