Lon Kruger

Kyle Phillips / The Transcript

OU's Lon Kruger during the Sooners' game against Vanderbilt, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, at Lloyd Noble Center.

Oklahoma's upcoming trip to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on Saturday might seem a bit strange. The weekend's purpose, however, goes beyond basketball.

"It's a basketball game," OU coach Lon Kruger said, "but it's also about young [people] fighting pediatric cancer in this case."

OU and Minnesota's neutral-site meeting is in partnership with Coaches vs. Cancer, which Kruger is the council chair of and an organization that unites the American Cancer Society and National Association of Basketball Coaches.

Kruger, a long-time American Cancer Society advocate, explained how the Sooners landed the neutral-site game at Sioux Falls’ Sanford Pentagon.

“Sanford Health and Kelby Krabbenhoft are big boosters and big supporters of the fight against cancer,” Kruger said. “We’ve had that relationship for a few years with Kelby and when the opportunity from our schedule and their availability to have a team come up, we said we definitely wanted to do it so this was the year it meshed together.”

Ahead of Saturday's contest, the Sooners' men's basketball team will host young cancer survivors at a practice in Sioux Falls.

Kruger says his players will get the chance to meet, sign autographs and take photographs with the children in attendance.

"This game is really for them," OU freshman De'Vion Harmon said. "I'm excited to be able to play in this type of atmosphere, it's going to be fun. It's going to be fun to play in front of those people and just spend time with them before and after the game."

OU and Minnesota will tip off at 7 p.m. Saturday. The game will air on the Big Ten Network.

Joe Buettner is a sports reporter for the Norman Transcript. You can contact him at (405) 366-3557 or jbuettner@normantranscript.com.

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