Kruger gets 600th win as Oklahoma tops Kansas State 81-51
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) As usual, Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger deflected credit for a major accomplishment.
Khadeem Lattin had 17 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks to help the Sooners roll past Kansas State 81-51 for Kruger’s 600th career win.
Kruger became the 33rd coach to win at least 600 Division I games. Instead of soaking in the attention, he focused on his team finally earning a victory after losing nine of its previous 10.
”You think about how happy you are for the guys to get this one,” Kruger said. ”It’s been a year in which it’s been a grind, and they’ve hung in there and they’ve continued to work at it, and they’ve continued to get better. That’s not easy to do when you are not getting positive results.”
Rashard Odomes, who scored 16 points for the Sooners, said the milestone meant something to the players.
”It was great,” he said. ”It felt like something the team needed. It was great to get his 600th win. That just topped it off, just to get him something like that. It was a great game. We were just all out there having fun.”
Jordan Shepherd added 12 for the Sooners (10-18, 4-12 Big 12), who had lost nine of 10 since their upset win at West Virginia on Jan. 18. Kansas State’s point total and 25-percent shooting were season lows for the Wildcats, and for Oklahoma opponents.
”We were solid from start to finish,” Kruger said. ”They missed some good looks as well. Guys were pretty focused, pretty engaged throughout.”
Isaiah Maurice scored 11 points for Kansas State (17-12, 6-10), which has lost five of six. Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said he didn’t have much to say after the game.
”You got your butt smacked,” Weber said. ”I let them talk. `What are you thinking? What’s going on? What’s going on in your head, and what can we do? What can you do better? What can we do better?”’
Oklahoma held Kansas State to 24 percent shooting in the first half and took a 33-20 lead. The Sooners, who had fallen apart many times late in games this season, shot 56.7 percent in the second half to put the game away.
”They’ve had some tough finishes that we haven’t quite been able to complete, but I thought (this was) our most complete effort, start to finish,” Kruger said.
Kansas State has been on a tailspin after a solid start, and the Wildcats needed this one to help their fading NCAA Tournament hopes. The loss to the last-place Sooners could put them at risk of missing out on the big dance.
Oklahoma had been playing solid basketball in recent weeks but coming up short on the scoreboard. The Sooners were coming off a four-point loss to Oklahoma State last Saturday and a six-point loss to Baylor on Tuesday. The victory should give the young Sooners confidence as the Big 12 Tournament nears.
Kansas State had just four assists the entire game and made only 14 field goals. Maurice, who made 4 of 7 shots, was the only Kansas State player to shoot better than 50 percent.
”Isaiah played well, but other than that, nobody really gave us anything,” Weber said. ”It’s sad for our guys. They’re a good group. I don’t think they’ve quit.”
Lattin, describing Odomes’ aggressiveness when he drives to the basket: ”I’m going to the rim, and you can’t stop me.” Odomes then added, ”I didn’t make that up, he made that up.”
Kansas State plays at TCU on Wednesday.
Oklahoma plays at No. 3 Kansas on Monday.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP