Oklahoma Sooners vs. San Diego State Aztecs
The Oklahoma Sooners struggled at the end of the 2012-13 college basketball season. A team that looked like a lock for the NCAA college basketball tournament instead entered March Madness as a 10th seed, a bubble team, and now has to fight in a tough first round match against the San Diego State Aztecs.
The only way that OU can turn around their late season struggles (loss to last place TCU, first round exit in Big 12 tournament) is if they can count on Romero Osby to play one heck of a good game. If San Diego State (22-10) double teams Osby, and takes him out of the game, Steven Pledger will have a tough time winning this one on his own.
It can be said that the Oklahoma Sooners will have an advantage because Lon Kruger knows San Diego State so well. He did face the Aztecs every year that he coached the UNLV Running Rebels, but that also means he knows how tough Steve Fisher’s team is. While at UNLV, Kruger turned that franchise around and made them winners. Against the Aztecs, Kruger’s Running Rebels compiled a 5-13 record.
In three of those seven seasons, Kruger’s team lost to San Diego State three times, twice in the regular season and one in the league tournament. That was nine losses in three seasons to his team’s heated rivals. On the positive side, that means in the other four seasons Kruger’s team went 5-4, which is slightly better.
But just because Lon Kruger coached against them before doesn’t mean he knows secrets about this team. Sure, he knows Fisher’s coaching style, but the players are all different faces.
“I didn’t see them play that much this year,” Kruger said. “I know they’re very talented, very athletic. Steve Fisher does a terrific job. As far as knowing exactly about this team, we’ll learn more the next couple days watching film.”
In 2011, Fisher led his Aztecs to the NCAA college basketball tournament and into the Sweet 16. They are one of only 17 NCAA schools to play in four consecutive NCAA tournaments. Fisher has made them into perennial winners. Guard Jamaal Franklin leads them with 16.5 points and 9.5 rebounds. Fellow guard Chase Tapley averages 13.5 points a game.
Romero Osby leads the Oklahoma Sooners in scoring (15.8), rebounds (7.0) and field goal percentage (.522). He is the first Big 12 first-team player since Blake Griffin in 2009. Steven Pledger adds 11.8 points while Amath M’Baye puts down 10.1 a game. With Osby and Pledger both seniors, they know this is their final chance to prove themselves, and the Oklahoma Sooners, to the world.
“Before the game, we need to go on the Rocky run and put on our sweats and everything,” Osby said, referring to the classic sport’s underdog movie. “He had his back against the wall and people didn’t believe he could do what he did. Hopefully, we can do the same thing.”
The Oklahoma Sooners and San Diego State Aztecs tip off at 8:20 p.m. CST.