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Dean's Blog: Eager And Confident Sooners Arrive In Syracuse

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SYRACUSE, New York -

You could sense it. See it in their eyes. The body language and spoken words made it clear: The Sooners realize they are about to play the biggest games to date of their young lives. And they're confident as they arrived here in Syracuse where they meet Michigan State Friday night in the Sweet Sixteen.

Edmond Memorial point guard Jordan Woodard spoke to me of “winning it all.” Bridge Creek banger Ryan Spangler told me speculation that his back is in bad shape is inaccurate. That he injured it about a “month or so ago but it's not a problem now.”

The Sooners arrived in Syracuse last night at 9 p.m. EST and will go through a closed practice early this afternoon, followed by media sessions for all four teams in this East Regional – OU, Michigan State, Louisville and North Carolina State.

GOTTA IMPROVE THE 3-BALL: OU has shot less than 40 percent from 3-point range in seven of 10 games since their February 9 win over Iowa State. They also have two more turnovers than assists since then. That simply won't cut it against a premiere Sparty defense they'll see tomorrow night.

MSU COACH TOM IZZO ON OU: “Run, run, run, run, run, man. I think we could have a test run for the 20-second shot clock in this game. It will be just the reverse opposite of what we just went through.”

TOM IZZO ON LON KRUGER: “I think Lon has been phenomenal. He won at Florida. He's won at Kansas State. He's won at Illinois. He's won at Vegas. Nobody until recently wins at Atlanta. That was an interesting period of time since I was involved in that job.

“When you can do it at five, six different schools, it means you got a hell of a system. I think that's as important as anything.”

IN THE END: OU must play very well to beat the Spartans, even though they're the three-seed and MSU is the seven. But this is not a vintage Izzo team. So Oklahoma finds itself with a good shot at advancing to the Elite Eight, where the quality of competition frankly doesn't increase.

It'll take two strong performances, but there is indeed a realistic opportunity to advance to the Final Four. And that's why the traveling cagers in crimson in cream arrived in upstate New York with confidence and enthusiasm.

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