Lack of Size, Experience Key against Oklahoma

No. 7 San Diego State (22-10) will have their hands against No. 10 Oklahoma (20-11) when the two teams tip off at 6:20 p.m. PST on Friday night in Philadelphia, PA...

No. 7 San Diego State (22-10) will have their hands against No. 10 Oklahoma (20-11) when the two teams tip off at 6:20 p.m. PST on Friday night in Philadelphia, PA.

"Lon Kruger's basics are never compromised," SDSU head coach Steve Fisher said of Oklahoma. "They're very good defensively, they pressure you hard and they don't beat themselves."

Forward Romero Osby, who is averaging 15.8 points on 52.2% shooting along with 7 rebounds, leads Oklahoma.

"He's really, really good," Fisher explained. "He knows how to play. I read a lot about him, and he seems like the kind of player that every coach would love to have. His demeanor, what he says, what's important.

"He's a hard guard. He's a very difficult guy to guard. He can put it to the floor, he can shoot it on you facing you to 18, 20 feet. He gets to the free-throw line. And as you said, as the season has gone on, the ball-- when he doesn't touch the ball, it's a rarity in their half-court setup."

SDSU forward JJ O'Brien should get the first shot at Osby, another hybrid forward, and eventually could see the Aztecs top player, Jamaal Franklin, matched up with the Sooners senior.

"He's strong," Franklin said. "He plays real hard and is consistent shooting the mid-range jumper. He's aggressive going to the basket too. I definitely respect him as a player."

One thing San Diego State has struggled with all season has been with the size inside of the opposition.

Osby only stands at 6-foot-8 and there isn't much more size when you look up and down the Sooners roster.

"I noticed they're not too much bigger than us," Franklin added. "They shoot mid-range shots really well. Their guards look to penetrate every time, and they're fast and quick. They're athletic. We're definitely going to have to get a body on them, box out, and try to out-rebound them."

Oklahoma will start 6-foot-9 junior forward Amath M'Baye, 10.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, alongside Osby. 6-foot-8 senior Andrew Fitzgerald is the only other "big" that receives minutes off the bench.

"It makes it equal for us, because I wouldn't say that we have a true center on our team either," Franklin explained. "(Oklahoma) is a real athletic team that likes to play above the rim. Their system is real cool. They like to spread the floor and play pick-and-roll like we did last season. So it should be really interesting playing against them on Friday."

Experience

While Oklahoma and San Diego State are similar in size, they aren't in experience.

Osby is the lone Sooner to play in March Madness. He played in three tournament games during his freshman and sophomore season at Mississippi State (41 minutes of action).

"You would hope that experience would have a little impact," Fisher said. "I know Oklahoma hasn't been (to the tournament) for a while. We've got a bit of experience. I think if you want to pick, you would rather have very good players with no experience rather than players with just experience. But I think we've got very good players with experience. So hopefully, it will have a subtle impact and help us a little bit."

While the Aztecs have four straight NCAA tournament appearances with senior shooting guard Chase Tapley being an integral part of each team. Franklin and James Rahon have also both been to three straight big dances.

"It plays a big factor, because a lot of people when they're first there," Franklin said. "They're excited and nervous. We've already been there and got our first-time jitters out. We're just ready to play, and we're not really looking at it as the NCAA Tournament, we're looking at it as business."

Shooting Woes

Struggling.

That's the simplest and nicest way to put how San Diego State has been shooting in the past five games.

Aztecs are 104-of-281 (37.0%) from the field and 22-of-94 (23.4%) beyond the three-point stripe.

"It's definitely frustrating when you have wide-open shots and you're not making them," Franklin said. "But at the same time, you have to shoot like you've been making all of them. You can't stop shooting them, because when you do that, it makes a good shot turn into a worse shot. You've just got to keep putting time in at practice and keep working on our game so we can make those shots when it matters."

Oklahoma has been efficient on the defensive end, holding opponents to 66.2 points per game on 41.7% shooting and 32.7% from beyond the arc.

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