March 18, 2013

Pokes, Sooners headed to NCAA Tournament

CHICKASHA — The Oklahoma State Cowboys will make their 25th appearance in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship on Thursday when they travel to San Jose, Calif., to meet the University of Oregon in the second round (round of 64) of the 2013 event.

OSU?and Oregon will tip off at approximately 4 p.m.

The Cowboys, playing in their first NCAA Tournament since 2010, will enter play as a five seed seed in the Midwest region. It is OSU’s highest seed in the tournament since the 2005 team was a two seed.

The winner of the OSU-Oregon game will face the winner of the St. Louis-New Mexico State matchup for a spot in the “Sweet 16”. That game will take place on Saturday.

The Cowboys are appearing in the NCAA Tournament for third time in five seasons under head coach Travis Ford and for the 16th time since 1991. Oklahoma State is 38-23 all-time in the tournament.

“A lot of it went like I thought it would,” Ford said of the bracket announcement. “I thought we would be a five seed and I thought we were going to be in San Jose. That was kind of my gut feeling.

“Obviously we are playing a very tough Oregon team, which is playing its best basketball right now, and coming off a Pac-12 championship victory. They’ve won five of their last six games so it should be a great first round game.”

Lon Kruger became the first head coach in Division I history to guide five programs to the NCAA Tournament when his Oklahoma Sooners (20-11) were named Sunday as the No. 10 seed in the event’s South Regional.

OU will take on No. 7 seed San Diego State (22-10) on Friday in Philadelphia, Pa. The game will tip off at 8:20 p.m. and be televised on TBS.

If OU wins its tournament opener, it will play Sunday against the winner of Friday’s contest between No. 2 seed Georgetown (25-6) and No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast (24-10). Games will be played at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Sooners, who finished tied for fourth place in the Big 12 Conference with an 11-7 mark, are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance in four years and 27th overall. Their 23 NCAA Tournament appearances since 1983 are the second most in the Big 12 during the span behind Kansas’ 29.

“Exciting day,” said Kruger, who is making his 14th NCAA Tournament appearance as a head coach and owns a 14-13 record in the event. “Any time you can be a part of Selection Sunday, you feel great about that. It’s hard to get in the field; there are a lot of great teams out there.”

Kruger, who has led Kansas State, Florida, Illinois and UNLV all to at least one NCAA Tournament win, guided K-State to the 1988 Elite Eight, Florida to the 1994 Final Four and UNLV to the 2007 Sweet 16.

“I don’t think too much about it,” Kruger said of leading his fifth school to the NCAA Tourney. “Obviously, it means we’ve had a lot of good stops; we’ve been very fortunate.”

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