Tahlequah Daily Press

March 21, 2014

Sooners, North Dakota State play before skeleton crowd early on

Oklahoma basketball notebook: Clean-up crew keeps fans out during early minutes of Sooners' game

By JOHN SHINN
CNHI

— More than 10,000 fans crammed into Veterans Memorial Arena for Thursday night’s Oklahoma-North Dakota State game. Just about all of them missed the opening minutes of the game.

The tipoff time was pushed back 28 minutes because the Michigan State-Delaware game that proceeded it ran late.

The problem for fans was there were two sessions Thursday and the building had to be cleared following the Michigan State-Delaware game.

The Sooners and Bison were going through starting lineup introductions before the doors opened to ticket holders for the second session.

Halfway through the first half, the arena was full. But the opening was played in front of less than 1,000 fans.

Too many 3s, not enough free throws: The Sooners only attempted 18 free throws Thursday. Over their final two games of the season, they went to the free-throw line 25 times. Their opponents attempted 57. The Sooners attempted 65 3-pointers over those games.

“Most games we hit 3s, and we won doing that this year. I don’t know why we would change it now,” OU forward Ryan Spangler said. “If we’re not hitting, we need to realize we need to get to the rim, get some fouls, but we have been doing it all year, so why change now?”

Postseason skid reaches five games: Coach Lon Kruger completed his third season at OU on Thursday. During that time, the Sooners are now 0-5 combined in the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments.

“Obviously, disappointed that we haven’t won in conference tournament or here,” he said. “This group’s done a heck of a job. They have made a lot of progress, and we got to keep getting better, keep making progress as a program and as a group and they will do, they will do that.”

Why no foul?: OU opted not to foul when North Dakota State needed a 3-pointer to tie the game late in regulation. Kruger said there was too much time on the clock. North Dakota State’s Lawrence Alexander made the game-tying 3-pointer with 11.2 seconds left in regulation.

“We talked about if it got down six or seven seconds remaining, then we would foul,” Kruger said. “I thought our guys did a good job of having a clear picture of everything that happened prior to the shot.

“But, I thought our guy got there and contested it pretty good and Alexander made a big shot. But, if it was a little later in the clock, if it got down to six or seven, we were going to foul.”

The five-seed jinx: Five seeds went 1-2 against No. 12 seeds Thursday, with OU joining Cincinnati, which fell to Harvard, as the other upset victim. Over the last two NCAA tournaments, four No. 5 seeds have lost in six games.

Kruger said it’s a sign of how parity has taken over the NCAA tournament.

“I think that there’s so many good teams in the tournament, obviously not a lot of difference (in seeds),” he said. “The depth and the quality of the depth is, I think, as good as it’s ever been and, obviously, Cincinnati-Harvard, it looked like a close ball game. Ours was a close ball game — not much difference in those ball clubs.”