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NCAA Tournament: Breaking down the Oklahoma-San Diego State matchups

OU vs. SAN DIEGO STATE — The coaching matchup of Lon Kruger vs. Steve Fisher is the dominant pregame storyline. The contest could ride on the performances of OU's Romero Osby and SDSU's Jamaal Franklin.
BY STEPHANIE KUZYDYM Published: March 21, 2013

GUARD

OU; Steven Pledger; 6-4; 219; Sr.

SDSU; Jamaal Franklin; 6-5; 205; Sr.

Analysis: After averaging 19 points in the six previous games, Pledger combined for 4-of-18 shooting and 10 points in losses to TCU and Iowa State. Without his 3-point threat, defenses can collapse on Osby. Franklin is a human highlight reel (Google “Jamaal Franklin dunk”) and more. He's the only player in the nation to lead his team in scoring (16.7), rebounding (9.5), assists (3.2) and steals (1.5). Edge: Aztecs

GUARD

OU; Je'lon Hornbeak; 6-3; 180; Fr.

SDSU; Xavier Thames; 6-3; 190; Jr.

Analysis: These two players are similar in stature. Thames' experience and scoring make him a more dependable contributor, especially since midseason back problems caused him to miss four games. Since a scoreless outing against Wyoming, Thames averages 13.1 points. Hornbeak's 13 points Feb. 23 against Baylor is his only double-digit scoring effort the last seven games. Edge: Aztecs

BENCH

OU; Buddy Hield and Cameron Clark

SDSU; Skylar Spencer and James Rahon

Analysis: The Sooner bench played an important role in Oklahoma's return to the NCAA Tournament. Forward Andrew Fitzgerald is the other senior who made a strong transition from starter to reserve as a senior. And the silver lining of Hield's injury and recovery is the Sooners gained energy off the bench. Spencer leads San Diego State in blocked shots, averaging almost two a game the last 11. Rahon has just 11 turnovers in 50 collegiate games. Edge: Even

OVERALL

OU; 20-11 overall; 11-7 Big 12; No. 10 seed

SDSU; 22-10 overall; 9-7 Mountain West; No. 7 seed

Analysis: The history between the coaches has been a storyline this week. Lon Kruger is making history at Oklahoma, becoming the first coach in NCAA history to take five teams to the tournament. The Sooners hadn't been there in three years. San Diego State is making its fourth straight appearance but is 2-8 in the NCAAs, both victories coming in the Aztecs' run to the 2011 Sweet Sixteen. Kruger is 8-5 in NCAA first-round games, but 6-14 against Steve Fisher. Edge: Aztecs


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