By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
PHILADELPHIA — Oklahoma had been a team that consistently won rebounding battles. Friday night that clearly wasn’t the case. The Sooners were whipped, 40-29, on the glass.
San Diego State forward DeShawn Stephens ripped down 11 and six of those came on the offensive glass.
“San Diego State did a better job than we did, especially in the second half when the game was kind of in the balance,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “I thought they converted some things offensively, were a little tougher to the boards offensively. We didn’t get things done on our end.”
Romero Osby led the Sooners with eight rebounds. Freshman guard Isaiah Cousins added five off the bench. No one else had more than four.
Foul trouble: The Sooners were on the wrong end of the whistle in the first half. Guards Steven Pledger, Je’lon Hornbeak and Buddy Hield all picked up two fouls in the first 16 1/2 minutes.
Pledger and Hornbeak received theirs because of defensive lapses. Hield picked up both of his on charging calls.
Couldn’t get to the line: A critical cog in OU’s offensive game plan is getting to the free-throw line. Besides being on the wrong side of the whistle, they couldn’t get the free-throw line either. OU went 4 for 8.
“It had an impact on the game because we’ve been a good free throw shooting team this season, so that’s easy points,” Romero Osby said. “It’s an opportunity to stop the clock, no time running, and we’re able to get easy points and the free-throw line. That affected us a little big, ball credit to San Diego State … They did a good job of guarding us without fouling.”
It was a season low for both makes and free-throw attempts for the Sooners.
The Aztecs were 16 for 17 from the charity stripe.
3-point struggles never went away: For the third straight game, OU was off target from beyond the arc. They were just 5 for 21 from 3-point range.
OU entered the game having hit three of its last 34 3-point attempts (against TCU and Iowa State).
“The timing was not good in this particular case for sure, when you’re finishing the season and going into tournament play,” Kruger said. “San Diego State does a good job defensively, and they forced some shots, and they deserve some credit even though we had some looks that didn’t go in.”
Seniors sit: Senior point guard Sam Grooms and forward Andrew Fitzgerald were not in foul trouble Friday night. Kruger just chose not to play them much.
Grooms, who hit a 3-pointer to open the game, only played 18 minutes. He finished with three points and three assists.
Kruger chose to give Cousins extended minutes instead.
“I thought Isaiah did a good job of getting the ball out of the backcourt and creating some things,” Kruger said. “But yeah, it wasn’t anything.”
Fitzgerald played just three minutes and did not register a statistic in his final game. Kruger said that was a manner of needing Osby on the floor as much as possible.
For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.