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OSU and OU basketball: How Travis Ford and Lon Kruger brought back high-stakes Bedlam

COMMENTARY — -It's been four years since Oklahoma and Oklahoma State played basketball for anything more than bragging rights. That changes Saturday in Stillwater, and we've got the coaches to thank for it.
by Jenni Carlson Published: February 15, 2013
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But now, Ford has players who have the Cowboys atop the Big 12 standings. What's more, they look poised for the future, too.

The same can be said of the Sooners.

Kruger brought in a freshmen class that has made key contributions this season. Isaiah Cousins is a starter, Buddy Hield was a starter until he hurt his foot Monday night, and Je'lon Hornbeak, who started the first 20 games of the season, will return to the starting lineup with Hield's injury.

As they've played important minutes, it has relegated the likes of Cam Clark, Andrew Fitzgerald and Sam Grooms to reserve status. Those veterans were starters last season, so they could've been sore about the move. Instead, they've continued to play hard and well for OU.

That's a credit to Kruger. He has convinced the Sooners to buy in. That is obvious in the way they play defense. This is a lock-down bunch.

“I think their defense is good enough to beat anybody in the conference,” said Tubbs, who's seen several OU games in person this season. “And when they're on offensively — and that's the key for anybody; can you make shots? — they have a legitimate shot at beating anybody at any place in this conference.”

Tubbs has high praise for Ford and the Cowboys, too.

“I really like their team,” he said. “I think they're a little more consistent (offensively). And they're very athletic. See, you've got three guys out there that you've really got to guard and put pressure on them.”

For their part, neither Ford nor Kruger take credit for what is happening with their programs.

“We have some good players, but we also have some really good guys who are committed to the university, committed to the team,” Ford said. “It's a young team, but we have the right chemistry.”

Kruger said, “We approach it the same today (as when we arrived). Obviously, the starting point is a little different because they've had some success ... but still, your approach is the same.”

Don't let the coach speak fool you.

Ford and Kruger have done much and deserve praise. They're bringing back their programs, and in the process, they've done us a solid.

They've brought back Bedlam.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
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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