OU basketball notebook: Sooners' late-game strategy a success

OKLAHOMA BASKETBALL — With 9.3 seconds left, Coach Lon Kruger instructed players to foul Kansas State once they crossed midcourt.
BY MIKE BALDWIN, Staff Writer, mbaldwin@opubco.com Modified: January 28, 2012 at 10:44 pm •  Published: January 28, 2012
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With the Sooners owning a 61-58 lead with 9.3 seconds left, Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger instructed players to foul Kansas State once they crossed midcourt instead of allowing the Wildcats to attempt a potential game-tying 3-pointer.

“We typically will do that, up three under six or seven (seconds),” Kruger said.

K-State's Jordan Henriquez made both free throws with 5.2 seconds remaining.

The Wildcats fouled Sam Grooms, who hit two free throws with 4.8 seconds left to give OU a 63-60 lead. That would be the final points. K-State's Rodney McGruder's 22-footer at the buzzer hit the back of the rim.

“We obviously meant to foul again with two or three seconds to go and we didn't,” Kruger said. “McGruder had a real good look at it. He shot it great. It just didn't go.”

FOUL TROUBLE A FACTOR

The Sooners built a 10-point lead early in the second half, but momentum stalled when Steven Pledger, Andrew Fitzgerald and Romero Osby all picked up their third foul with more than 16 minutes left.

It got worse.

Pledger picked up his fourth foul with 10:56 remaining, Fitzgerald his fourth with 10:01 left. Both returned with 6:48 remaining. The only player to foul out was Fitzgerald with 5.2 seconds left.

“Coach did a good job getting guys in and out,” Osby said. “We just played a little bit smarter (at the end). We still played aggressive but tried to play smarter.”

Saturday's game: OU 63, Kansas State 60

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