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Oklahoma basketball: Lon Kruger gets 500th win as OU edges Northwestern State

BY STEPHANIE KUZYDYM Published: November 30, 2012
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photo - Oklahoma Head Coach Lon Kruger holds up the game ball after his 500th career win during a men's college basketball game between the University of Oklahoma and Northwestern Louisiana State University at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla., Friday, Nov. 30, 2012.  Photo by Garett Fisbeck, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma Head Coach Lon Kruger holds up the game ball after his 500th career win during a men's college basketball game between the University of Oklahoma and Northwestern Louisiana State University at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla., Friday, Nov. 30, 2012. Photo by Garett Fisbeck, The Oklahoman

NORMAN — There were missed shots, 46 total free throw attempts and piles of players struggling for the ball on the floor.

There was a stop of play right after tip due to the official getting smacked in the chin.

There were dunks and alley-oops, shouting and a technical. It was an ugly, messy, physical basketball game, but in the end there was victory.

Near midcourt, the Oklahoma players raised their pointer fingers while surrounding their successful coach.

On Friday night, in front of an estimated 3,420 fans, the Sooners beat Northwestern State (La.) 69-65. The victory was No. 500 for a Lon Kruger-coached team.

“In true Oklahoma style, you hung half a thousand on them,” Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said in a postgame ceremony for Kruger's historical victory. “We're glad you did it right here in Oklahoma, and we hope you have many, many more in the crimson and cream.”

This victory, however, was one Kruger said was hard for his team to grasp.

“Lot of big plays there late that allowed us to sneak out with a win,” the second-year OU coach said.

The game was OU's fifth in eight days, and although Kruger credited Northwestern State for a physical game, senior Steven Pledger sat shaking his head up and down when asked if the ugly win came because of a tired team.

The Sooners finished the game 22 of 56 from the floor and 5 of 12 from 3-point range.

Oklahoma struggled in the first half. Starters Amath M'Baye and Romero Osby combined for eight missed shots. Pledger missed a three. Tyler Neal missed a three. Pledger stole the ball and nothing came from it.

There was missed opportunity after missed opportunity. And the whistle blew often for fouls. The Sooners went into the locker room at halftime down by three.

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