PHILADELPHIA — If NCAA tournament experience is a critical factor in advancing through the bracket, Oklahoma is fighting an uphill battle.
The Sooners, the South Region’s No. 10 seed, only have one player on their roster who has played in an NCAA tournament. Senior Romero Osby was a freshman at Mississippi State when the Bulldogs made the tournament in 2009. Osby admitted Thursday he wasn’t the guy to lean on for advice in the matter.
“I really haven’t tried to lecture them because the first time I was in I didn’t really play a lot, but we did make it,” Osby said. “This is the first time I’ve been a significant part of a team and we’ve made it, so it’s kind of a first for me, too.”
The Aztecs, the South Region’s No. 7, seed are in the field for the fourth straight season.
“Experience, yeah, it’s going to come in to factor, but like I said, it’s going to be the team who makes the right plays at the right time that’s going to be successful,” San Diego State guard Chase Tapley said. “We’ve just got to have that.”
As far as the experience gap goes, OU will lean on coach Lon Kruger. Tonight’s game will mark the 14th time he’s guided a team to the tournament.
“We know when he talks about the NCAA tournament we should definitely listen, especially for guys like me who haven’t got a chance to be in it,” forward Amath M’Baye said.
History won’t matter: OU coach Lon Kruger and San Diego State coach Steve Fisher have met many times dating back to 1997 when Fisher was coaching Michigan and Kruger was at Illinois. The meeting escalated when Kruger was coaching at UNLV from 2005-11 and meeting the Aztecs twice a year during the regular season and some years in the Mountain West tournament.