OU’s Lon Kruger gets win No. 600 against the Wildcats

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger notched his 600th career victory with a 81-51 win over his alma mater, Kansas State, in Norman Saturday.

The Sooners lost to No. 1 Kansas 73-63 in Lawrence Monday night.

“It’s been a fun ride,” Kruger said of his journey to No. 600. “It’s been great, all the relationships and all the people you’ve met and worked with. And the players, of course, are at the heart of all of it. That’s why any of those wins come about.”

Kruger has served at six different colleges:

Texas-Pan American (1982-86), Kansas State (1986-90), Florida (1990-96), Illinois (1996-2000), UNLV (2004-11) and Oklahoma (2011-present).  He is the first head coach to take five different Division I schools to the NCAA Tournament (Pan American being the exception); all five of those schools made multiple appearances; all five had at least one tournament win; four advanced to the Sweet 16 (Illinois being the exception); and he made it to the Final Four with Florida in 1994 and with OU last season.

“All the situations are unique one way or another, of course,” Kruger said. “In terms of our approach, we’ve approached them all the same. It’s always about people. It’s always about relationships. It’s always about recruiting, finding the right fit in those situations. It’s always a bit different at each place, but it’s always comes down to people, for sure.”

Kruger ranks 10th among active coaches in Division I victories and is now the 33rd coach to reach 600. The man who ranks 32nd in career wins is former Sooners coach Billy Tubbs, who had 609 victories in D-I, plus another 31 in two seasons at Division III Southwestern University in Texas.

“I think he is a master to playing to mismatches and does it about as well as anybody I’ve ever coached against,” Kansas coach Bill Self said of Kruger. “His teams take care of the basketball, they take good shots, they don’t beat themselves and certainly that’s a pretty good formula for success.”