Texas A&M seized a 17-16 lead with 5:26 remaining in the first half and never trailed again, grinding out a 62-53 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners Wednesday evening at the Sprint Center.
And really the story of the game in this one was the board battle, where the Aggies out-rebounded OU 37-28.
They did a lot of that damage--13 times to be exact--on the offensive glass.
“When you don’t win a lot of games, as many as you want to, consistency is probably going to be a problem,” Kruger said. “And exactly like you said, whether it may be turnovers one night or offensive boards, generally it’s a stretch in the ballgame we had difficulty overcoming. But I just thought loose balls, offensive boards, I thought A&M was quicker in all of those than we were.”
For most of the game, the Sooners had the deficit in the two- to four-point range, but time and time again an offensive board broke their hearts and prevented them from climbing over the hump.
They actually tied the contest at 39 with 9:10 remaining, but could never take the lead because of a lack of offensive execution in that sequence.
“Obviously we tied the game up, fought back,” said point guard Sam Grooms. “Missed two shots and had two turnovers and they converted on I think both of those possessions and they went back up four. And I don’t know, when you miss easy ones around the rim and you turn the ball over, you give Big 12 teams the opportunity to go back the other way and to make plays, they’re going to do it.”
So, they did.
Texas A&M turned it into a six-point lead with 6:22 to go and a double-digit advantage near the one-minute mark.
By that time, the Sooners were more than cooked.
“First of all, congratulations to A&M,” Kruger said. “I thought they did a lot of good things. All night they seemed to be quicker with loose balls, and then the offensive boards really hurt us as well.”
Forward Romero Osby actually led all scorers with 17 points.
But he had relatively few scoring opportunities early in the game.
“They were trying to do a good job of fronting me in the post, not letting me post up and trying to ride me off screens, not really letting me set a ball screen, kind of like Coach wants us to do with everyone else,” Osby said. “They were really physical with me and trying not to let me get to the offensive boards as well.”
Grooms finished as the only other Sooner in double figures with 13.
Four Aggies managed that feat, as forwards David Loubeau and Khris Middleton each poured in 15, guard Elston Turner scored 14 and forward Ray Turner added 12.
Kruger and the Sooners finish 15-16 in his initial campaign, winning just five of their final 19 outings after starting 10-2.
“It was great for me,” Grooms said. “Playing for Coach Kruger, he taught me a lot of things, him being a point guard himself. Broke down a lot of film and I learned a lot of things that this whole year that probably--I probably wouldn’t have learned.”
Osby seconded that.
“Following up with what Sam said, it was great playing for Coach,” Osby said. “I learned a lot. He put me in some situations to really challenge me, and that’s what I needed. That’s what I needed as a player and as a man.”
OU returns 11 of its 14 players in 2012-13 from the current roster, including Grooms and Osby as part of all five starters coming back.
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