OU earns No. 5 seed in NCAA Tournament

OU forward Ryan Spangler

The Sooners are going dancing for the second time in a row under coach Lon Kruger. OU is the fifth seed in the West region and takes on North Dakota State on Thursday in Spokane, Wash.

With the way things transpired this weekend, the prevailing thought was Oklahoma had dropped from a No. 5 seed to a No. 6 seed.

Not so fast as the Sooners stayed on that No. 5 line and are the fifth seed in the West region of the NCAA Tournament, it was announced Sunday evening.

OU finished the regular season 23-9 and second place in the Big 12 conference. The conference is sending seven teams to the tournament, the most of any conference in the country.

OU will play North Dakota State in the No. 5 vs. No. 12 matchup Thursday in Spokane, Wash. The Sooners are in the same section of the draw as No. 4 San Diego State and No. 13 New Mexico State.

"It's exciting," coach Lon Kruger said. "Really happy for these guys. We've played our best basketball in the last month of the season. It's an honor for them to be playing in the tournament. Real proud and happy for the guys."

Kruger and the players said they don't know much about North Dakota State at this point but that's obviously going to change starting Sunday night.

The mentality was a lot different for the Sooners this time around. Last year OU was hoping it had done enough to stay in the field of 68 and earned a No. 10 seed. Coincidentally, the Sooners were bounced by SDSU, who the Sooners could play in the round of 32 if both teams advance.

This year wasn't about making the tournament. It's about making some noise, too.

"We have three tournaments left," sophomore forward Ryan Spangler said. "That's the way coach looks at it. We have three two-game tournaments left. We just have to keep getting better as a team. It's our time to win these two games and keep moving this program up."

Following an early exit from the Big 12 tournament Thursday, OU traveled back Friday and went right back to work Saturday. The message from Kruger all season has been the team learns from each experience, and he said it was no different this time around.

And for a senior like Cameron Clark, he's not ready to hang up the jersey just yet.

"This is just a whole another chapter for us," Clark said. "We're not just thinking about getting to the tournament this year."

The top three seeds in the West region are Arizona, Wisconsin and Creighton. OU is also in the same region as Bedlam rival Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are a No. 9 seed.

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