NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma's Lon Kruger has become the first coach in Division I history to guide five different programs to the NCAA tournament, landing the Sooners on the bracket Sunday as a No. 10 seed in the South Regional.
The Sooners (20-11) open against No. 7 seed San Diego State on Friday in Philadelphia. Kruger previously took Kansas State, Florida, Illinois and UNLV to the NCAA tournament — and won games at all four schools.
"I don't think too much about it," Kruger said. "Obviously, it means we've had a lot of good stops; we've been very fortunate. (My wife) Barb and I have met a lot of people along the way and changing wasn't a plan going in, but it's worked very well and we've got good friendships around the country and have had really good players everywhere."
Kruger, in his second season at Oklahoma, is 14-13 in NCAA tournament games and reached the Final Four once with Florida. The Sooners are back in the tournament for the first time in four years and making their 27th appearance, getting an at-large bid after consecutive losses to TCU and Iowa State put them at risk of being on the wrong side of the bubble.
"Any time you can be a part of Selection Sunday, you feel great about that. It's hard to get in the field; there are a lot of great teams out there," Kruger said. "Most of the (players) calling right after the announcement to family and friends, we haven't had the opportunity to do that before. Especially the seniors; I'm really happy for them. Happy for everyone."
For Kruger and junior Amath M'Baye, a transfer from Wyoming, San Diego State (22-10) will be a familiar opponent from their time in the Mountain West.
The seventh-seeded Aztecs are making their ninth NCAA appearance as an at-large team. They won their first tournament game in 2011 when they advanced to the round of 16 before losing to Connecticut.