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Oklahoma basketball: Wednesday's game features top tier coaching matchup between OU's Lon Kruger, Texas Tech's Tubby Smith

Tubby Smith and Lon Kruger have combined to lead nine different teams to the NCAA Tournament 31 times. They've made it to the Sweet 16 or further 12 times. Smith coached Kentucky to the 1998 NCAA Championship.
by Ryan Aber Published: February 11, 2014

“He's done that everywhere he's been,” Kruger said. “Obviously they've bought into it. They're playing with confidence and again, they're talented and they have good players so that's a good combination.”

Texas Tech beat then-No. 12 Baylor early in Big 12 play and beat Oklahoma State on Saturday.

“He's really got them going in the right direction,” Neal said. “I don't think their record shows how well they've played this year. They've been in a lot of games and they've won some good games.”

Nearly 20 years ago, Smith could've been the Sooners' coach.

In 1994, after Billy Tubbs left Oklahoma for TCU, Donnie Duncan's top choice for the job was Smith, who had just taken Tulsa to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1955.

Smith nearly took it.

Just before Tubbs' departure, Kansas State made a run at Smith after Dana Altman took the job at Creighton.

Instead of bolting to the Wildcats, Smith instead announced that he had decided to return to the Golden Hurricane. Tulsa President Robert Donaldson announced that Smith had rejected Kansas State's overtures and signed a new five-year contract with TU.

But when Tubbs left, Duncan found out Smith had yet to sign his deal and quickly made Smith the top target.

It appeared Smith's hiring was imminent before talks broke down, Smith went back to Tulsa, and Duncan eventually hired Kelvin Sampson instead.

by Ryan Aber
OU Athletics Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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