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Oklahoma basketball: Steve Fisher has fared well against good friend Lon Kruger

San Diego State coach Steve Fisher has OU coach Lon Kruger's number, a dominance that's been established over many years and several schools.
by Jenni Carlson Published: March 21, 2013

“If you looked at the games ... most of them have been really close,” Fisher said.

True enough.

Single-digit games have been the norm in this series. Even in those three victories during that great season at San Diego State, Fisher and the Aztecs didn't beat Kruger and the Runnin' Rebels by more than six points.

“We've had close game, close game, close game every time we've played,” Fisher said.

One of the closest was also one of the most bizarre.

It came during the 2004-05 season, and with 28.5 seconds left, San Diego State led 81-71 and seemed to have victory secured. Then, UNLV scored off a rebound with 17.8 seconds left, hit three free throws after being fouled on a three-point attempt with 13.6 seconds left and cut the San Diego State lead to five.

Then things really got wild.

San Diego State missed two free throws, and UNLV made a three-pointer with 7.6 seconds left. San Diego State stopped its scoreless streak when it made the second of two free throws, but that only gave the Aztecs a three-point lead with 5.6 seconds left.

UNLV capped its wild rally with a game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer.

The Runnin' Rebels won in overtime.

“And he genuinely felt bad after the game,” Fisher said of Kruger.

Fisher paused.

“Not as bad as I did, but he felt bad.”

Kruger actually hadn't brought up that game in interviews this week because he knows how painful it was for Fisher.

These guys are just that close.

Kruger and Fisher admit that coaching against a friend is different. More emotion. More empathy.

“I wish we weren't playing one another in the first round,” Fisher said.

Given the way Fisher's teams have dominated Kruger's teams, you've got to think Kruger wishes they weren't playing each other either.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at, follow her at or view her personality page at

by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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