Kruger earns AP honor

It was a good day for Lon Kruger, who was named Big 12 Coach of the Year by the AP on Monday.

Sunday didn't turn out to be the big day for Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger. Good things come to those who wait, and Kruger received the good news Monday morning.

Kruger was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year by the Associated Press on Monday morning. Texas coach Rick Barnes earned the coaches' honor Sunday afternoon.

It was a surprise for OU to reach the NCAA tournament last season in only his second year in Norman, but it was tough to envision the Sooners doing too much this season.

OU was trying to replace 68 percent of its scoring and only had two seniors returning. If the Sooners were going to succeed, it was going to be based off the development of a trio of sophomore guards and the additions of a couple of in-state products.

The results have been better than anybody could have hoped for with the Sooners finishing the regular season 23-8 overall and 12-6 in the conference.

Guards Buddy Hield, Je'lon Hornbeak and Isaiah Cousins have all matured, while Jordan Woodard and Ryan Spangler have represented the state well in their first year in Norman.

"This award is very obviously a reflection of how well our guys have played," said Kruger in a statement. "The progress they've made and the strong finish they had to the regular season. Now the challenge is to continue to get better and finish strong in the postseason."

OU was picked to finish tied for fifth in the preseason conference predictions. Instead the Sooners are the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 tournament and will play the winner of Baylor-TCU at 6 p.m. CST Thursday in the quarterfinals in Kansas City.

Player awards were also announced with sophomore Buddy Hield making second-team all-conference and forwards Cam Clark and Ryan Spangler making honorable mention.

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories