It was a game played outside of the continental United States on a still-growing sports network that tipped before some Americans were home from work and ended while overshadowed by a professional football competition between Cowboys and Redskins.

Thus, I'm not sure lots of people saw it.

So, if you missed it, here's what you need to know: Villanova continued its strange trend of shooting a bunch of 3-pointers -- even though the Wildcats aren't great (or even good) at making 3-pointers -- and lost 78-55 to Oklahoma on Monday in Hawaii. So the Sooners are now 6-0 with a lopsided win over the Big East favorites, and a No. 1 ranking at And is Lon Kruger something else or is Lon Kruger something else?

He's never recruited like John Calipari, stacked conference titles like Bill Self or won international competitions like Mike Krzyzewski. And he's a gentleman who rarely, if ever, says or does anything outrageous. So, mostly, Lon Kruger operates off the national radar.

But if you're looking for consistency regardless of circumstances, he's your dude.

He wins no matter where he works.

He wins no matter who's on his roster.

And today feels like a good day to highlight those undeniable truths.


Lon Kruger's head-coaching career began in 1982 at Pan American, which was a Division I independent at the time. He went 20-8 in his fourth season, then bounced to Kansas State, his alma mater, where he made four straight NCAA Tournaments, including an Elite Eight, before jumping to Florida. Kruger took the Gators to the Final Four in 1994, then, two years after that, moved to Illinois, where he made three NCAA Tournaments in four seasons. He then popped to the NBA for a few years before returning to college in 2004, at UNLV, where he led the Runnin' Rebels to four NCAA Tournaments in a five-year span from 2007 to 2011 before moving to Oklahoma, where he's taken the Sooners to each of the past three NCAA Tournaments, including the Sweet 16 last season.

Kruger, 63, has won 566 games at the Division I level. He's the only coach in DI history to take five different schools to the NCAA Tournament. He's the only coach since the NCAA Tournament expanded in 1985 to take four different schools to the Sweet 16.

He's been the SEC Coach of the Year.

And the Mountain West Coach of the Year.

And the Big 12 Coach of the Year.

And then there's this: The Sooners finished 141st in the KenPom ratings the season before Lon Kruger took over. They then finished 115th in his first season, 49th in 2013, 33rd in 2014, 13th last season and, after Monday's win over Villanova, they're now ranked No. 1.

They've improved literally every season.

And the craziest part?

Oklahoma is ranked No. 1 at KenPom even though its four recruiting classes leading into this season ranked this way nationally, according to 247Sports:

  • 2012: 47th
  • 2013: 81st
  • 2014: 49th
  • 2015: 54th 

Buddy Hield, OU's leading scorer and National Player of the Year candidate, was ranked 154th in the Class of 2012. Isaiah Cousins, OU's second-leading scorer, was ranked 223rd in the Class of 2012. Ryan Spangler, OU's third-leading scorer, was ranked 139th in the Class of 2011. Jordan Woodard, OU's fourth-leading scorer, was ranked 172nd in the Class of 2013. And Khadeem Lattin, OU's fifth starter, was ranked 116th in the Class of 2014.

In other words, Oklahoma doesn't start a single top-100 recruit. And yet OU is ranked No. 1 at KenPom, in the top 10 everywhere, and on its way to a fourth straight NCAA Tournament.

It really is amazing.

So consider this your reminder that one of the best basketball coaches currently working, and of all-time, resides in Norman, Okla. He's unlikely to beat your team for a five-star recruit. But he's probably going to beat your team. And most teams on his schedule.

Lon Kruger (USATSI)
Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger has turned the Sooners' program around. (USATSI)