Lon Kruger picked up the 600th victory in his storied coaching career on Saturday as OU routed the mediocre Kansas State Wildcasts 81-51 in Norman.
It happened about two months later than he’d hoped, I’m sure, but the milestone marks yet another amazing accomplishment in Kruger’s storied career, one we’re all grateful and lucky to be a part of.
Khadeem Lattin was the early Sooners scorer, notching 6 quick points out of the gate. Kansas State was frigid from the field for most of the first half, scoring just 7 points before the ten-minute mark on 1-12 shooting.
Oklahoma’s shooting slowed down, too, but never hit the dismal K-State levels. At the first half’s 8-minute mark, though, Isaiah Maurice hit a few straight buckets for K-State and Jamuni McNeace got hot for the Sooners for a quick scoring stretch that made it 23-16 with 5 minutes left.
The biggest early difference between the two cold-shooting teams was the free throw shooting. Oklahoma drilled 13 of 14 first-half free throws, while the Wildcats took just 5 and hit only 3. Lattin was the kind of first-half force the Sooners have needed all season, scoring 10 points and pulling down 9 boards to lead the team. OU went to the locker room up 33-20.
OU shot just 30% for the half, K-State 24%. The teams went a combined 3-25 from 3-point range.
The Sooners avoided a second-half letdown with a 4-4 shooting start to open the frame. They quickly extended their lead to 19, at 45-26, while the Wildcats couldn’t shake their iffy shooting and the turnover problems that plagued them all night.
Rashard Odomes became a big second-half factor. He knocked down a gutsy and-one layup to keep the Sooners lead at 18 with 13 minutes left, then nailed another transition layup the next time down the floor.
Kansas State did a better job of getting to the line in the second half, which helped it keep pace with Oklahoma and avoid going down by too much even as its shooting stayed cold. Christian James, who showed flashes of progress and knocked down a first-half three in the game, had a bad minute-long stretch midway through the second frame where he picked up a technical, missed two free throws and committed his third foul. James, needless to say, has lots of offseason work to do.
The Wildcats had cut the OU lead to 12 points by the ten-minute mark. Maurice continued to lead the team’s scoring effort while D.J. Johnson contributed as well.
But the Sooners didn’t let the mini Wildcats run get out of hand, in a refreshing change from their season-long habits. Oklahoma struggled from the charity stripe, as the teams spent much of the half trading free throws. The Wildcats were in the double bonus for more than half the period and sank 80% from the line.
In the end, though, a comeback proved too daunting for KSU as the Sooners kept scoring in transition and never gave up their double-digit lead. It was a quick sequence, with a made 3-pointer, a steal and an Odomes slam that put OU up by more than 20 and effectively sealed the win. The Sooners continued to run up the score as the Wildcats got cold again and laid down through the final minutes. Lattin finished with 17 points, Odomes with 16 and Jordan Shepherd had 12.
The Sooners go on the road against Kansas on Big Monday at 8 p.m. on ESPN.
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