The Norman Transcript

February 11, 2014

Sooners discuss fan altercation and how to avoid it

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Over the last two days, every basketball team has had a similar discussion to the one Oklahoma had at the end of Monday’s practice.

It was the one about the altercation between Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart and a Texas Tech fan Saturday night and the Big 12 Conference-mandated three-game suspension Smart must serve.

“We talk to them all the time about that but everyone in the country is talking about it a little bit more,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “Hopefully, everyone learns from it — not just those involved but everyone in the country.”

The altercation and what has followed it has been a major topic since Saturday night. Smart told his coaches he was provoked by a racial slur. Texas Tech, which has conducted its own investigation has concluded there was no racial slur. The fan Smart shoved stated in a press release issued by Texas Tech that he called Smart a “piece of crap.” That was it.

Kruger, who is in his 28th season as a college head coach as well as spending four years coaching in the NBA, said he’s never witnessed a player-fan altercation in person.

But one of the realities of playing college basketball on the road is dealing with fans. They are closer to the players than any other major sport. Play four years and you’ll hear just about everything from fans during that period.

In unison, the Sooners said Monday you just have to ignore it and play.

The starting five doesn’t change: The Sooners face the Red Raiders at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Lloyd Noble Center. Provided there isn’t an injury in today’s practice, OU’s starting five — forwards Ryan Spangler and Cameron Clark, and guards Jordan Woodard, Isaiah Cousins and Buddy Hield — will remain the same for the 25th straight game. According to the NCAA, the Sooners are on the only Division I team that’s used the same starting lineup in every game.

“We’ve had a few games missed to injury, but not many,” Kruger said. “It’s always a nice benefit when you can go through a season relatively healthy.”

Only backup point guard Je’lon Hornbeak has missed a game due to injury this season. A broken foot caused him to miss four games in December. The rest of team has been available for every game.

Sooners drop out of AP Poll: The Sooners dropped out of the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time in four weeks on Monday. The Sooners, who went 1-1 last week with an overtime loss at West Virginia and an 18-point victory over Baylor on Saturday, had been ranked in the previous four polls. Technically, they came in at No. 26 in the top spot among others receiving votes.

OU dipped two spots to No. 25 in the USA Today coaches poll on Monday. The Sooners dropped four spots in Ratings Percentage Index, which is weighed heavily by the NCAA tournament selection committee, to No. 22.

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn

jshinn@normantranscript.com

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