Oklahoma will face San Diego State in first NCAA Tourney game since 2009
8:25 PM, Mar 17, 2013
8:26 PM, Mar 17, 2013
NORMAN, Okla. -- Lon Kruger became the first head coach in Division I history to guide five programs to the NCAA Tournament when his Oklahoma Sooners (20-11) were named Sunday as the No. 10 seed in the event's South Regional. OU will take on No. 7 seed San Diego State (22-10) on Friday, March 22 in Philadelphia, Pa. (tip time TBA).
If OU wins its tournament opener, it will play Sunday against the winner of Friday's contest between No. 2 seed Georgetown (25-6) and No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast (24-10). Games will be played at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Sooners, who finished tied for fourth place in the Big 12 Conference with an 11-7 mark, are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance in four years and 27th overall. Their 23 NCAA Tournament appearances since 1983 are the second most in the Big 12 during the span behind Kansas' 29.
"Exciting day," said Kruger, who is making his 14th NCAA Tournament appearance as a head coach and owns a 14-13 record in the event. "Any time you can be a part of Selection Sunday, you feel great about that. It's hard to get in the field; there are a lot of great teams out there. Most of the (players) calling right after the announcement to family and friends, we haven't had the opportunity to do that before. Especially the seniors; I'm really happy for them. Happy for everyone."
Kruger, who has led Kansas State, Florida, Illinois and UNLV all to at least one NCAA Tournament win, guided K-State to the 1988 Elite Eight, Florida to the 1994 Final Four and UNLV to the 2007 Sweet 16.
"I don't think too much about it," Kruger said of leading his fifth school to the NCAA Tournament. "Obviously, it means we've had a lot of good stops; we've been very fortunate. Barb and I have met a lot of people along the way and changing wasn't a plan going in, but it's worked very well and we've got good friendships around the country and have had really good players everywhere."
Leading the Sooners into Friday's game will be senior forward Romero Osby. The first-team All-Big 12 selection (OU's first since Blake Griffin in 2009) is averaging 15.8 points and 7.0 rebounds a game while shooting .522 from the field, all team highs. He has scored at least 17 points in each of the last eight games and is averaging 21.5 points during the stretch.
Said Osby of OU's NCAA Tournament selection, "It means so much to us, and we're so happy to be able to have this opportunity, and it means a lot, especially to the guys that have been here for the longest and suffered through some of the hard seasons. We're blessed and grateful."
Oklahoma is 3-0 all-time against San Diego State. The Aztecs, who finished 9-7 in the Mountain West Conference, are coached by Steve Fisher.
"San Diego State's a talented team, and Steve Fisher's done a great job," Kruger said. "Of course we battled him for a lot of years (when we were) at UNLV. He does a great job. He's got a talented, athletic basketball team and we'll have to keep getting better."
OU owns a 36-26 all-time record in the NCAA Tournament and has made four Final Four appearances (1939, 1947, 1988 and 2002), three Elite Eight showings and four Sweet 16 appearances. It reached the national championship game in 1947 and 1988.