In the first 38 minutes of Thursday night’s game against Oklahoma, North Dakota State dominated.
The Bison hit 3-pointer after 3-pointer in big situations, got the the rim easily and clogged up the interior on the other side to keep the Sooners away from it.
But with less than two minutes to go, OU was ahead.
“It’s Lon Kruger sitting on the other bench,” NDSU coach Saul Phillips said. “He found some ways to keep them in the game.
“When you’re operating on all cylinders, everybody is a good coach. When you really, really are needed is when things are kind of breaking loose on you. And it’s harder to be them than us in this situation. It is. … I’ve been on the other side of it. It’s hard.
“If we lose, everybody would’ve been disappointed back home for a night, and then they would’ve talked about how great of a season we had.”
Phillips said the Sooners could be a force in the near future.
“Tell you one thing right now, do not sleep on this Oklahoma program in the next couple years,” he said. “Because with the youth that they have, the talent that they have, Lon’s going to have this thing cranked up pretty good, sooner or later.”
SOONERS PASSIVE IN LANE
The Sooners made 13 of 18 foul shots vs. North Dakota State. But OU had just eight foul shots going into the final two minutes of regulation.
The Sooners did not attack the basket with regularity. On OU’s final possession, Isaiah Cousins drove the baseline and got into the lane. But instead of going up for a shot, Cousins passed into the corner to Buddy Hield, who missed a 3-pointer. OU also missed two follow shots in the final seconds.
“Got exactly what we wanted,” Kruger said. “Isaiah was a little iso(lation) for that wing and get to the rim and make play. I don’t know if he bobbled it it there when he got to the rim or didn’t feel quite comfortable finishing there, but we had two or three looks at it.”
A LESSON LEARNED