OU basketball: Every Big 12 victory enhances OU's tournament chances

The Big 12 is one of the strongest basketball leagues in the country. A win over any conference team, including struggling Oklahoma State, will help OU make a second consecutive NCAA Tournament.
by Ryan Aber Published: February 16, 2014

“This is a growing opportunity,” Kruger said. “This group, they've grown all year, made progress consistently.

“There were a lot of unknowns early in the year, and these guys have stuck together and they've grown and like moving the ball to each other. They like playing the game. They're a great bunch.”

Entering the season, Oklahoma wasn't given much of a chance at making a second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.

The Sooners returned hardly any scoring from last season. Although Buddy Hield and Cam Clark have carried the scoring load at different times, the Sooners have shown the ability to win without their top scorers.

They beat Texas A&M in late December with just six points from Hield. They defeated the Cowboys on Saturday with just five points from Clark.

Oklahoma remains the only team in Division I to have used the same starting lineup all season and to have all five of those starters averaging in double figures.

When Jordan Woodard or Isaiah Cousins has struggled, Je'lon Hornbeak has filled in solidly at both guard spots. When Clark or Ryan Spangler have found themselves in foul trouble, Tyler Neal and D.J. Bennett have filled in capably.

Barring a complete collapse down the stretch, the Sooners are heading back to the tournament.

“Last year, we were kind of in the mix and got in fortunately,” Neal said. “This year, it's fun taking it to the next level and seeing how good of a seed we can get, not just get in.”

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by Ryan Aber
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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