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OU basketball: Steven Pledger scores 30 points as Sooners beat No. 22 Kansas State

The Sooners got their first win in the Lon Kruger era, giving the coach a victory in his return to his alma mater Saturday.
BY MIKE BALDWIN, Staff Writer, Published: January 28, 2012

— The Sooners have their first road win in the Lon Kruger era.

It came at the expense of Kruger's alma mater in his first game in Manhattan as the opposing coach.

Steven Pledger scored 30 points, and the Sooners overcame foul trouble to post a 63-60 win over No. 22 Kansas State on Saturday night at Bramlage Coliseum.

Kruger said he was more happy for his players to post a gritty road win than to have bragging rights in his old stomping grounds. His players, though, noticed Kruger's purple number 12 jersey hanging from the rafters.

“I took a picture of it,” said forward Romero Osby. “It's a big deal when you're playing for someone whose jersey is retired.”

On a sentimental night for Kruger, a game full of twists and turns was decided when OU point guard Sam Grooms missed an opportunity to add to a 59-58 lead with a 10-second differential on the shot clock and game clock.

Grooms' shot with 15 seconds left didn't hit the rim. K-State's Jordan Henriquez rebounded but Grooms swiped the ball free.

“Coach has been screaming at me to stay engaged no matter what happens,” Grooms said. “I saw him bring the ball down after I shot, what was probably not the best shot. I was thinking in my head I had to get the ball back.”

The Wildcats now were forced to foul. Osby hit two free throws for a 61-58 lead with 9.3 seconds left.

Kruger instructed his team to foul K-State. Henriquez hit both free throws.

Grooms answered by hitting two free throws with 4.8 seconds left. K-State's Rodney McGruder attempted a potential game-tying 22-footer at the buzzer that clanged off the back of the rim.

“The win is great but much more important is I thought we showed a little more toughness, a little more fight, a little more competitiveness,” Kruger said. “We've been growing in that area but we did it against a club that sets the bar for toughness and good, hard play in our league.”

One key was Pledger finally rediscovered his stroke.

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