Sooners Open Season Sunday in Norman
SUNDAY'S GAME BASICS
It's finally here. After an offseason of constant work, a trip overseas and welcoming in an exciting freshman class, the Sooners will open the regular season on Sunday.
It's basketball time time in Oklahoma.
The Sooners (0-0, 0-0 Big 12) open their 2017-18 campaign with a home non-conference contest against Omaha (0-1, 0-1 Summit League). The season opener tips off at 2 p.m. CT at Lloyd Noble Center. Oklahoma aims to remain perfect in season openers under head coach Lon Kruger, who enters his seventh season at the helm of the Oklahoma basketball program.
ON THE AIR
Sunday’s opener will air on the Sooner Radio Network (KRXO 107.7 FM “The Franchise” in Oklahoma City; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa) with Toby Rowland and Kevin Henry announcing. The game will be televised by Sooner Sports TV on Fox Sports Oklahoma and Fox College Sports Central with Chad McKee, Bryndon Manzer and Jessica Coody calling the action. Fans can use the Sooner Sports TV channel finder here.
Free admission will be granted to all fans with a ticket from Saturday's OU football game against TCU. For those without a football ticket, single-game men's basketball tickets start at just $10 at the OU Athletics Ticket Office (800-456-4668) and online here. All OU students will be admitted free to the game with a valid school I.D.
IN THE BONUS
A pregame fan fest will be set up outside of Lloyd Noble Center near the east entrance. Activities include face painting, yard games, DJ and a photo booth.
To tip off the season, all OU students will be granted free admission to the season opener with a valid OU ID. Students will receive a free white BoomSquad t-shirt and camo koozie upon entering the north student entrance.
Fans are encouraged to #ArriveSooner to avoid delays into the gates with new enhanced screenings. For more gameday tips at Lloyd Noble Center, visit the LNC's information page.
• Oklahoma is 6-0 in season openers under Lon Kruger. Additonally, the Sooners have won 14 consecutive season openers dating back to the 2003-04 season. OU has won 19 straight season openers played at Lloyd Noble Center. Its last loss when opening the season at home came in 1993 (84-83 to Massachusetts).
• Sunday’s contest will be Kruger’s 200th game as the head coach at Oklahoma. Kruger has compiled a 122-77 (.613) record through his first 199 games with the Sooners. He will become just the fifth coach in program history to guide the Sooners in 200 games, joining Hugh McDermott, Bruce Drake, Billy Tubbs and Kelvin Sampson.
• Oklahoma freshman guard Trae Young is projected to start for the Sooners at point guard. A McDonald’s All-American and five-star recruit, Young grew up in Norman and attended high school at Norman North HS – less than three miles from the University of Oklahoma campus. Should he start in Sunday’s game, Young will be the first Oklahoma starter from the city of Norman in 50 years. The last OU starter to claim Norman as their hometown was Steve Ayers in the 1967-68 season.
Freshman and Norman native Trae Young will make his OU debut on Sunday.
OKLAHOMA'S LAST TIME OUT
In the final tune-up before the start of regular season, Oklahoma men’s upended East Central, 114-78, in an exhibition matchup on Wednesday night inside Lloyd Noble Center.
Five Sooners scored in double-digits, led by freshman guard Trae Young’s 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Junior guard Christian James collected 18 points, six rebounds and four steals while senior forward Khadeem Lattin recorded a double-double of posting 15 points and 10 boards.
Oklahoma shot 28-of-41 (.683) in the opening half to outscore the Tigers, 68-45. After ECU went 8-for-19 (.421) in the first frame, the Sooners made it a priority to limit the Tigers’ long-range shots in the second half, holding ECU to 2-of-13 (.154) from deep.
The Sooners outrebounded the Tigers, 52-32, as five OU players pulled down at least five boards. Oklahoma scored 68 points in the paint.
SERIES HISTORY VS. OMAHA
Sunday’s showdown is the first meeting between the Sooners and Mavericks. A recent addition to NCAA Division I, Omaha began its reclassifying process from NCAA Division II in 2012 by joining The Summit League.
Oklahoma is 20-4 all-time against current members of the Summit League, including 4-1 during the Lon Kruger era. The lone Summit League loss during the Kruger era came against North Dakota State in the opening round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
OU associate head coach Chris Crutchfield was a two-sport athlete at Omaha, graduating in 1992 and playing both football and basketball for the Mavericks. Now in his seventh season on the Sooner bench, Crutchfield began his full-time coaching career at Omaha in 1995-96 after two seasons as a graduate assistant with the Mavericks.
Two freshmen projected to start in Sunday’s contest are already known around the Norman area. Guard Trae Young (Norman) and forward Brady Manek (Harrah) are both local products with numerous high school accolades gearing up for their collegiate debut later this week.
Named a five-star recruit according to 247Sports, ESPN, Rivals and Scout, Young was named the second-best point guard in his national recruiting class by ESPN and third-best by 247Sports and Scout. Playing high school ball at Norman North HS - less than three miles away from the OU campus - Young averaged 42.6 points, 4.1 assists and 5.8 rebounds during his senior year while shooting 48.9 percent from the field. He earned McDonald’s All-America honors, becoming the fourth McDonald’s All-American from Oklahoma to play for OU, joining Sooner legends Blake Griffin, Wayman Tisdale and Jeff Webster.
A four-star recruit according to 247Sports, ESPN and Scout and a three-star recruit by Rivals, Manek joined the Sooners from Harrah HS, a 35 mile drive from Norman. Manek averaged a double-double in his senior high school season with 24.3 points, 11.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists while shooting 47.1 percent from the field.
BACKCOURT WORTH WATCHING
Oklahoma guards Kameron McGusty and Trae Young were voted by the Big 12 Conference’s head coaches as Preseason All-Big 12 Team honorable mention selections. The Sooners were one of only two Big 12 teams with two guards on the conference’s preseason honors list.
A sophomore from Katy, Texas, McGusty boasts the highest 2016-17 scoring average (10.9 points) among returning Sooners. The 6-5 guard upped his production to 14.4 points per game in Big 12 play last season – the fifth-most among all returning Big 12 players. McGusty’s success in conference play was highlighted by 15 consecutive games of double-digit scoring. Following his rookie campaign, McGusty was named an All-Big 12 honorable mention and member of the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team. He is the first OU freshman to earn All-Big 12 honors and All-Newcomer status since Tommy Mason-Griffin in 2009-10.
Additionally, Young was selected as one of 20 watch list candidates for the 2018 Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award, presented by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Named after Hall of Fame point guard Bob Cousy, the annual honor recognizes the top point guards in Division I men’s college basketball. A national committee comprised of top college basketball personnel determined the watch list of 20 candidates. Young is one of only three freshmen featured on the watch list, joined by Trevon Duval (Duke) and Collin Sexton (Alabama).
The Sooners welcome the Cardinals of Ball State to Norman on Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. CT for the first-ever meeting between the two programs. The non-conference contest is a campus game for the upcoming PK80 tournament in Portland, Ore., and will air on Fox Sports Southwest Plus. The Cardinals are coming off back-to-back 20-win seasons and have shared the MAC West Division title in each of the past two seasons. Ball State opened the season with a one-point loss (78-77) to defending Atlantic 10 champion Dayton on Friday.
Oklahoma is 1-0 against MAC teams during the Lon Kruger era, defeating Ohio, 74-63, in 2012. The Sooners are 5-0 all-time against current MAC schools, having only faced Miami of Ohio (2-0), Ohio (1-0) and Western Michigan (2-0).
Single-game men's basketball tickets start at just $10 at the OU Athletics Ticket Office (800-456-4668) and online here.