The Norman Transcript

February 26, 2013

OU making best of foul-heavy games

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — It is hard to get a rhythm going when the game stops every 45 seconds for a foul, but that’s been the average in Oklahoma’s last two games. Last Wednesday’s game at Texas Tech included 43 fouls. Saturday’s game against Baylor had 57.

Some of that was the Bears fouling to stop the clock, but, still, 100 fouls in two games seems excessive.

“Officials are in a no-win situation,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “Everyone is talking about defenses grabbing and holding, and clearly that’s happening. But if officials call all those fouls everyone is upset because everyone is in foul trouble.

“I think it will be a major topic this spring and summer about whether we want officials to call the rule book or to be subjective and be different game-to-game-to-game.”

The average number of fouls in an OU game this season has been 34.24. In truth, the current fouls per game has declined slightly from the 34.77 in OU’s games last season. There were 35.9 per game in the 2010-11 season. The average was 34.35 in 2009-10. In 2008-09, which was Blake Griffin’s last season as a Sooner, the average was 38.5 per game.

One of the major complaints about college basketball is the lack of scoring. That hasn’t been the Sooners’ problem the last two games. They set season highs for points against the Red Raiders (86) and against the Bears (90).

Kruger is part of the overwhelming majority of coaches who would like to see the rule book enforced. It would cut down on the grabbing and pulling that goes on in most games and allow for more movement on offense.

“The NBA had this problem a few years ago,” Kruger said. “Scoring was going down, so they said, OK, no more. Offensive guys get to move, and the game became very popular again. It can be done.”

Different Texas: The Sooners face Texas at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Austin. Even though OU won the first meeting, 73-67, in Norman. Texas has gone through some changes since.

Sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo has returned to the lineup after a 23-game NCAA-mandated suspension.

“They’re considerably different because they’ve added a top, elite player,” Kruger said of the Longhorns. “(Kabongo) does a lot of things offensively, but he’s also very active and very quick defensively. It’s not just his points. He creates, he gets in the lane, he pushes tempo. He does a lot of good things for them.”

No medical boot for Hield: Freshman guard Buddy Hield is still is not practicing with the team, but he was shooting flat-footed shots at Monday’s practice and he was no longer wearing a medical boot on his right foot.

“He’s more active every day,” Kruger said. “He’s making good progress from what (OU trainer Alex Brown) says. I don’t know what it means in terms of number of days, but Buddy is certainly on schedule. He’s working as hard as he can work at it. He wants to get back.”

Hield has missed the last three games since breaking a bone in his right foot on Feb. 11 against TCU. The original prognosis was for him to miss four-to-six weeks.

Long night: OU guard Je’lon Hornbeak wore a big smile. He chipped his two front teeth in Saturday’s win over Baylor and he had to go see a dentist about an hour after the game ended. The procedure lasted about 90 minutes and included two root canals.

“It was worth it,” Hornbeak said. “… It came out nice.”

Hornbeak said the most painful part of the night was the shot of Procaine he received before the surgery.

“The numbness stuff, they hit me up right on the nerves,” he said. “That stuff hurt; I’m not gonna lie.”

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn

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