The day Kruger was hired and OU athletic director Joe Castiglione organized a rally in his honor at McCasland Field House, Joe C. said an utterly amazing thing, and not just because he refused to use an acronym for the nation.
He said Kruger’s Sooners would fill the arena “every single game” because “OU men’s basketball is on the way to the top in the United States of America.”
Saturday afternoon against the Jayhawks was the first time since it seemed like it might, no matter how remote, be possible.
Thanks to about 1,500 Kansas fans, the place was full. Indeed, when Kevin Young follow-dunked a Jeff Withey miss to begin the game, Lloyd Noble Center felt like Allen Fieldhouse South.
First the Sooners responded, then the fans responded. Then, as time wound down, a different dynamic ensued. Aside from OU’s student section, more Jayhawk than Sooner fans were standing. Like it was too much to bear for that swath of the Sooner Nation in attendance.
They just didn’t have it in them to let go with everything as long as the game could still get away. What energy they spent was saved for makes, misses and whistles. In between, they conserved. Like they didn’t want to get emotional in vain.
It was all perfectly sensible because it’s been so long for this program. It’s been so long since the three-headed monster that was Willie Warren, Tiny Gallon and Tommy Mason-Griffin torpedoed it and made it a loser.
After Saturday, it seems all right.
Better than winning was how the Sooners won.
They never trailed in the second half, but for a while is was like they were trying to, getting points on just 1 of 8 possessions as KU pulled within a point.