Second-round action in the South Region of the 2013 NCAA Tournament continues on Friday night, as the 10th-seeded Oklahoma Sooners tangle with the seventh-seeded San Diego State Aztecs at the Wells Fargo Center.
The winner advances to Sunday's third round to play the survivor of the Georgetown/Florida Gulf Coast matchup.
Despite bowing out of the Big 12 Conference Tournament in the quarterfinals with a 73-66 loss to Iowa State, Oklahoma still boasted a strong enough resume' to earn an at-large bid to the field of 68, going 20-11 overall with wins over Oklahoma State and Kansas being the most impressive along the way. Although the Sooners have a rich NCAA Tournament history with 23 appearances since 1983, this marks the first time in four seasons that they've qualified for the event.
In a surprisingly strong Mountain West Conference this season, San Diego State pieced together a solid campaign at 22-10 overall, and despite dropping its MWC tourney semifinal matchup to eventual-champion New Mexico, it defeated the Lobos earlier in the season, as well as fellow NCAA Tournament squads Boise State (twice), Colorado State and UCLA to prove its worth. The Aztecs have shown great consistency under head coach Steve Fisher, qualifying for the Big Dance in four straight seasons.
Oklahoma leads the all-time series with SDSU, 3-0, although the teams haven't played met since 1975.
While the Sooners failed to stick out in the Big 12 with either their scoring offense (71.1 ppg) or scoring defense (66.2 ppg), a balanced effort at both ends of the floor, in addition to strong margins in the rebounding (+1.9) and turnover (+1.5) departments, has assured them of an impressive season. The catalyst for Oklahoma is Romero Osby, who has had an outstanding senior season in the paint with 15.8 ppg on 52.2 percent shooting from the field, to pair with 7.0 rpg and nearly a block per contest. The 6-foot-8 forward is also clutch at the foul line, making nearly 80 percent of his 191 attempts. Steven Pledger (11.8 ppg) is the team's resident sniper, shooting 70-of-189 from 3- point distance (.370), while Amath M'Baye joins Osby in the frontcourt with 10.1 ppg and 5.2 rpg.
Although the Aztecs' offensive attack may not be as potent as Oklahoma's (69.2 ppg, .438 FG percentage), it doesn't need to be considering their stout defense, and they yield a mere 60.7 ppg to opponents on less than 39 percent field goal shooting. At the center of SDSU's game plan is Jamaal Franklin, who is without question one of the most versatile guards in the nation. In addition to scoring a team-high 16.7 ppg while knocking down more than a 3- pointer per game, at just 6-foot-5, he is one of the best inch-for-inch rebounders in the nation (9.5 rpg), and if that wasn't enough he also chips in 3.2 apg, 1.5 spg and 0.8 bpg for good measure. Chase Tapley is a more traditional perimeter player, scoring 13.5 ppg on 66-of-174 accuracy from beyond the arc (.379), while Xavier Thames falls just shy of the double-digit scorers' club (9.8 ppg), mostly due to his poor field goal percentage (.355).