Sooners Gaining Steam Under Kruger

One look at the record and it's clear Oklahoma has improved under second year coach Lon Kruger. The Sooners will visit Allen Fieldhouse, Saturday with a 13-4 record overall and 4-1 in the conference.

One look at the record and it's clear Oklahoma has improved under second year coach Lon Kruger. The Sooners will visit Allen Fieldhouse, Saturday with a 13-4 record overall and 4-1 in the conference.

Despite the records though, you probably wouldn't notice the Sooners, because they have improved quietly and steadily. That's a tribute to Kruger, the Kansas Sports Hall of Famer, who in his second year, has some talking Tournament and to be honest, it wouldn't be that surprising.

Kansas coach Bill Self isn't one that is too surprised, however. The Jayhawks coach is a big fan of Kruger and has tremendous respect for the team coming in to face his second ranked team.

"The thing about OU that impresses me the most is that three guys who started for them last year don't start and come off the bench, so they've recruited well," Self said. "They're more athletic, they're deeper, they're young and they got energy and they really guard. They're sound defensively,"

The Sooners are all around a solid basketball team, but statistically there isn't much that stands out. They're middle of the pack defensively, although they guard three point shooting well, with opponents shooting around 30% from three and they are solid at forcing turnovers.

While Oklahoma returned all five starters this year, the only two who remain in the starting lineup are seniors in forward Romero Osby and guard Steven Pledger. Both lead the Sooners in scoring averaging 14.5 and 11 points per game respectively. Osby is also the team's leading rebounder, averaging 6.5 per contest.

The three news starters are Wyoming transfer Amath M'Baye, who is a bruiser at 6-9 and is averaging 10.2 points and 5.6 rebounds a game.

The other two starters are true freshman in Buddy Hield and Je'lon Hornbeak. At. 6-3, Hield is averaging 9.2 points per game and leads the Sooners in steals with 21. Hield was a big recruiting victory for Oklahoma, playing his high school ball at Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita. He was also an AAU teammate of Jayhawks freshman Perry Ellis.

Hornbeak is the Sooners point guard that can do a little bit of everything. Also at 6-3, his athleticism and versatility adds to a guard line that will be the cornerstone of the building Sooner program.

It may be quiet, but by season's end, many will notice the job Kruger is doing in year two. It's very possible that they could creep into the top four in the Big 12 and after some nice early wins in league, the outlook is good that Oklahoma could return to the NCAA Tournament this year, which would be a huge boost to the program after the lean years of late.

It's likely that the Sooners, who haven't won in Allen Fieldhouse since 1994 will be Kansas' 32nd consecutive home victim, but under Kruger, it is also likely that Oklahoma will once again become a very formidable foe and much sooner that many anticipated.


Phog.net Top Stories