The one word Lon Kruger kept using over and over about Oklahoma’s Wednesday night loss was “disappointing.”
Oklahoma’s second-year coach also explained, though, that the key to moving forward so close to the end of conference play is just to regroup like they have the rest of the year.
The Sooners had two days of practices to prepare for Iowa State, a team that beat them by 19 the first time they played.
The media talked with Lon Kruger about the loss and moving forward. Here’s what he had to say:
MEDIA: Is there pressure as you get ready to take on another team that’s going to pressure you? What’s the game plan?
LON KRUGER: We’ve struggled with pressure all year. On occasion, those guys have handled it really well. (Wednesday) night those guys handled it really well. 32 minutes of good basketball went by the side because we didn’t handle pressure late. Very disappointing. We’ve got to be stronger with the ball but it’s not just the guy with the ball, it’s also receivers moving and being available. While the focus is on Sam because he’s got the ball, a lot of other people need to help Sam too.
When the team is trapping and Sam’s down in the trap 20 minutes there in the second half, receivers have to work a lot harder.
Do you worry about a hangover from one game to the next?
Oh, you always worry about it. We’ve handled that pretty well to this point. With the nature of conference play, you either have a big win or a disappointing loss and you have to come back and play three days later. These guys have done a good job of focusing on the next game. Tougher loss than normal last night because of the circumstances, but we have to bounce back for a very good Iowa State team.
You gave up points on the last nine defensive possession in regulation against Texas. Was that the most disappointing part?
A lot of that stems from bad ball handling or bad offensive possessions too, but certainly, you can’t give up points like that late in the ball game. It’s a combination of a lot of things .. but that was one of them for sure.
Did the absence of Buddy hurt more against the Longhorns than any other game?
Anytime a team loses a guy, it hurts in your rotation. We were in foul trouble (Wednesday) night so because of that trouble with Sam in the first half and Je’lon throughout, probably would have been more reason for Buddy to have an impact, but that’s the nature. We knew before the ball game that Buddy wasn’t available so you’ve got to take care of that.
When you get to this point in the year does it seems like everything gets magnified?
It does. Absolutely. That’s the nature of the last couple weeks of conference play. It’s a grind. We’ve got to keep focusing on getting better – playing better basketball. We were playing our best basketball of the year and it was distorted significantly by the lack of ability to handle pressure last night. It was 32 minutes of probably the best basketball we’ve had on the road this year.
Last time you played Iowa State energy the energy was down. Are you concerned about it again after this loss?
Oh, exactly. Concerned about everything. Last time we didn’t handle it very well. Probably the one occasion on the year when we didn’t bounce back and play with the energy and enthusiasm that we have typically and Iowa State took advantage of that.