No arena has given the Kansas Jayhawks as much trouble as the Lloyd Noble Center in recent years.
With a win on Tuesday, the Sooners would have three straight home wins over Kansas (12-3, 2-1 Big 12) and six home wins in the last nine years. Since the 2017-18 season, the Jayhawks have won a game in every Big 12 venue except the Lloyd Noble Center.
That success has continued for the Sooners (11-4, 2-1 Big 12) so far in the 2019-20 season, as the team has yet to be defeated on its home court.
“You’ve got to try to take care of your home court as best you can, that’s the formula in any league,” Kruger said.
Junior forward Brady Manek has never lost at home to the Jayhawks, a streak he wants to continue when No. 6 Kansas comes to Norman on Tuesday.
“That’s a pretty cool stat to have,” Manek said, “Just to never lose to Kansas at home so far and I think that’d be really cool to continue. I just think we’ve got to come ready and I think they’re coming in here thinking that they’re Kansas and I think that we just need to show them that the Big 12 is the Big 12 and anybody can play and anybody can win.”
During his freshman season, Manek and the then-No. 12 ranked Sooners found themselves trailing then-No. 5 Kansas for the majority of the game on their home court. After retaking the lead with less than a minute left to play the Sooners had a two point lead and the ball.
Then-freshman guard Trae Young found Manek on a slip screen wide open behind the arc. Manek’s three gave Oklahoma a five-point lead and all but sealed the Sooners biggest victory of the 2017-18 season
“That was a pretty cool play and a pretty cool draw-up by coach,” Manek said, “I’ll look at it all the time, it’s something special. That was the first time I’d played Kansas it was a really big game. They had a really good year and I think how they ended that year made it more special.”
The Sooners are coming off their first conference loss of the season against Iowa State. The loss was a surprise to many considering the Sooners were coming off back-to-back victories over Kansas State and Texas.
Meanwhile the No. 6 Jayhawks are coming off their own loss at home against No. 2 Baylor. Manek says he expects Kansas to be on top of their game after coming off a tough loss.
“For sure, they’re gonna want to win this one,” Manek said, “I don’t think they’re gonna want to lose two in a row so I’m expecting them to come in with everything.”
Redshirt junior guard Austin Reaves is no stranger to playing in big games, but will be facing Kansas for the first time.
“I think we try to just go into every game the same way,” Reaves said, “Just keep the same rituals, the same things you do every day and just do those and let the game come to you and then I think good things will happen.”
Oklahoma’s matchup with Kansas will tip-off at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN.