for this game

Fitzgerald, Oklahoma down No. 18 Kansas State

Jan 14, 2012 - 11:08 PM Norman, OK (Sports Network) - Andrew Fitzgerald scored 21 points to lead Oklahoma to its first conference victory of the season, an 82-73 win over No. 18 Kansas State on Saturday.

The Wildcats were coming off Tuesday's two-point loss to fourth-ranked Baylor, and ran into a Sooners team that shot 55 percent from the field.

Romero Osby and Steven Pledger both scored 18 points for Oklahoma (11-5, 1-3 Big 12), which hadn't won since beating Northwestern State on December 31.

"The guys have worked hard and we haven't won," said Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger. "To win reinforces that progress. That is not a glamorous answer, but I think from a coach perspective and from our team, the most important thing is that the win reinforces working hard."

Rodney McGruder had 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead Kansas State (12-4, 1-3), which made 10 three-pointers but shot 39 percent overall.

"We needed this game," said Kansas State head coach Frank Martin. "You lose to Baylor the way we did and it hurts your feelings. We needed a game like this to make us better."

The Wildcats started the game poorly, turning the ball over on their first offensive possession and missing their first five shots. That allowed Oklahoma to jump out to a 7-0 lead, and Kansas State was forced to play catch-up.

It stayed close, and was within 20-18 when Jeremy Jones sank a layup just past the midway point of the half. But the Sooners followed with the next eight points, and carried a 38-29 lead into the break.

The slow start continued to haunt the Wildcats during a high-scoring second half. They kept pace with Oklahoma and threatened to get back in the game at several points. But each time, the Sooners made a counter-run to restore a comfortable cushion.

The Wildcats were within 54-47 after Will Spradling sank a jumper with just under 12 minutes to play, but Oklahoma countered with three consecutive buckets -- including two from Fitzgerald.

Several minutes later, the Wildcats used a 10-0 run -- during which Spradling canned a pair of threes -- to draw within 69-61.

There were 6 1/2 minutes remaining at that point, and Oklahoma called a timeout. It was a pivotal juncture. If the Wildcats continued to score and get stops over the next several possessions, the game would likely come down to a close finish.

But Pledger ensured the Sooners didn't have to worry about a tight finish, draining a three coming out of the timeout. After Thomas Gipson missed a shot at the other end, Fitzgerald's jumper pushed the margin to 74-61, and Oklahoma held on from there.

Game Notes

Kansas State fell to 1-2 in true road games...Oklahoma is 8-1 at home...The Sooners made 22-of-26 free throws...KSU held a 44-24 rebounding edge...Kruger was the head coach at Kansas State from 1986-90.