The No. 10 Sooners face off against No. 7 San Diego State tonight in the NCAA Tournament, and Sooners Illustrated further breaks down the contest.
The Sooners (20-11, 11-7 Big 12) return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009 and their 27th all time, and they’ll face a veteran tourney team in the No. 7 San Diego State Aztecs (22-10, 9-7 Mountain West), who returns for its school record fourth consecutive NCAAs appearance. When the two meet at 8:20 p.m. CT, OU will represent the Big 12 as an at-large, while San Diego State will serve as an at-large for the MWC. The Sooners are reeling a bit heading into the contest, losers of two straight and only 6-4 in their last 10, and the Aztecs are coming off a 1-1 performance in the Mountain West Conference Tournament. OU leads the all-time series between the two 3-0, though they haven’t met since a 79-74 overtime decision all the back on January, 2, 1975.
--OU has compiled a 36-26 all-time record in the NCAA Tournament and has advanced to the Big Dance in 14 of the last 19 seasons.
--It has four Final Four appearances, most recently in 2002 when it advanced to one of its two national title games.
--Forward Romero Osby, who leads the Sooners with 15.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, is the only active player on OU’s roster who has participated in the NCAA Tournament.
The Sooners are 12-6 in their last six NCAA Tournament appearances.
They’re 3-2 all-time in the South Region, including all three wins back during their 2009 Elite Eight run with Blake Griffin and a devastating 2001 first-round upset loss to Indiana State back in 2001.
Looking at the Aztecs:
--They placed fourth in the Mountain West during the regular season and begain the regular season 11-1 before finishing 11-9 to earn their 22-10 mark.
--San Diego State is 2-8 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, with both wins coming two years ago when they beat Northern Colorado and Temple to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
--Junior guard Jamaal Franklin leads the team with 16.7 points, 9.5 boards, 3.2 assists and 1.5 steals per contest. He’s a two-time All-MWC pick and the only player in the league to rank in the top three in scoring, rebounds and steals.
--Third team All-Mountain West selection Chase Tapley averages 13.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.4 steals per game, while guard Xavier Thames averages 9.8 points and 2.2 assists and has 35 3-point hits this year.
--Head coach Steve Fisher is in his 14th year as head coach for the Aztecs with a 280-170 overall record.
G Sam Grooms (6-1, 203, Sr., 5.1 ppg, 3.1 apg)
G Steven Pledger (6-4, 219, Sr., 11.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
G Je’lon Hornbeak (6-3, 180, Fr., 5.6 ppg, 1.7 apg)
F Amath M’Baye (6-9, 208, Jr., 10.1 ppg, 5.2 apg)
F Romero Osby (6-8, 232, Sr., 15.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg)
San Diego State:
G Jamaal Franklin (6-5, 205, Jr., 16.7 ppg, 9.5 rpg)
G Xavier Thames (6-3, 190, Jr., 9.8 ppg, 2.2 apg)
G Chase Tapley (6-3, 195, Sr., 13.5 ppg, 2.8 apg)
F Deshawn Stephens (6-3, 195, Sr., 5.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg)
F J.J. O’Brien (6-7, 225, So., 7.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
Sooners Illustrated’s take:
This is a very intriguing matchup because it’s a battle between a pair of teams that could really cause its likely second round opponent in Georgetown a lot of trouble. Both possess scorers that can get theirs when they need two. For the Sooners, it’s Osby and oftentimes Pledger from the outside. For the Aztecs, it’s Franklin. Both teams are a tough matchup for their counterparts, but Osby and M’Baye’s ability to stretch the floor, plus Pledger’s recent surge has OU as the good mild upset pick here.
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