NORMAN –University of Oklahoma Head Men's Basketball Coach Lon Kruger and Vice President and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione announced the Sooners' 14-game 2018-19 non-conference schedule Wednesday. The challenging campaign features six home dates (one exhibition) and potentially nine contests against teams that have reached the NCAA Tournament at least once in the past two seasons.
Kruger and the Sooners are continuing to schedule marquee games in the non-conference portion of Oklahoma’s schedule. In each of the past three seasons, ESPN’s College Basketball Index has ranked the Sooners’ strength of schedule a one of the top-five toughest in the country.
Oklahoma's 2018-19 non-conference opponents and potential opponents combined for a .589 winning percentage (340-237) last season. Five teams qualified for the NCAA Tournament and an additional four competed in the NIT.
“We are excited about the opportunities our non-conference schedule provides,” said Kruger. “Once again, the Big 12 proved last season that it is one of the toughest and deepest conferences in college basketball, and that requires us to assemble a schedule that will prepare our team for Big 12 play. We believe this schedule does just that through playing some true road games, facing challenging opponents and bringing our fans exciting matchups in Norman, Oklahoma City and Tulsa.”
For only the second time since 1940 and the first since 1977, the Sooners will open the regular season with a pair of true road games. Oklahoma begins the year at UTRGV on Nov. 9 in Edinburg, Texas, and then faces UTSA in San Antonio on Nov. 12. The Vaqueros and Roadrunners are coached by a pair of former OU assistants in Lew Hill (UTRGV) and Steve Henson (UTSA), who took their head coaching positions following Oklahoma’s run to the 2016 Final Four.
The Sooners return to Norman for their home opener on Sunday, Nov. 18 against Wofford. The Terriers will be making their first trip to Norman, coming off a 21-13 season that included a trip to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. Wofford has reached the NCAA Tournament four times in the past nine seasons, most recently in 2015.
Oklahoma then heads to the Bahamas during Thanksgiving week for the 2018 Battle 4 Atlantis. The eight-team field also includes Butler, Dayton, Florida, Middle Tennessee, Stanford, Wisconsin and Virginia and will be played at Imperial Arena inside the Atlantis, Paradise Island resort from Nov. 21-23. The tournament bracket will be revealed on a later date.
OU will close November with a home contest against North Texas on Nov. 27 before beginning a December slate loaded with perennial NCAA Tournament teams. Oklahoma will face Notre Dame in New York City (Dec. 4), Wichita State in Oklahoma City (Dec. 8), Southern California in Tulsa (Dec. 15), Creighton in Norman (Dec. 18) and Northwestern in Evanston, Ill. (Dec. 21).
The Sooners will face the Fighting Irish for the first time in program history, taking on Notre Dame inside of Madison Square Garden as part of the 2018 Jimmy V Classic. Oklahoma is 7-13 all-time at MSG and will be playing inside the historic arena for the first time since winning the 2009 NIT Season Tip-Off.
For the third straight season, Oklahoma will take on Wichita State in a downtown arena. The Sooners and Shockers will meet in Oklahoma City at Chesapeake Energy Arena, home of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Tickets will be included in OU's 2018-19 season ticket package (also includes student season tickets). The Sooners defeated then-No. 3 Wichita State in last season's meeting at INTRUST Bank Arena, 91-83, in OU's first road win against a top-three non-conference foe in program history.
The following Saturday, the Sooners will head up the turnpike to downtown Tulsa and face Southern California at BOK Center. OU will be making its second appearance at BOK Center, previously facing Tulsa in 2008 shortly after the building opened. Oklahoma defeated USC last season in the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic, besting the Trojans, 85-83, at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.
Oklahoma and Creighton, who participated in a home-and-home series in 2014 and 2015, will renew their series beginning with a game in Norman this season. OU owns a 3-2 all-time record against Creighton (1-0 in Norman), a program that has reached the NCAA Tournament in five of the last seven seasons.
After hosting Northwestern in 2017, the Sooners will be making the return trip in their first-ever visit to Evanston for a contest inside Northwestern's newly-renovated Welsh-Ryan Arena. Oklahoma defeated the Wildcats, 104-78, last season in Norman.
The Sooners begin Big 12 play in late December (conference schedule will be announced on a later date) and will break away from conference competition on Saturday, Jan. 16 for the 2019 SEC/Big 12 Challenge. The Sooners, who are 3-2 in past SEC/Big 12 Challenges, will host Vanderbilt at the LNC. OU and Vandy will meet for the third time in program history, with the Commodores winning both previous matchups.
"Once again, the Big 12 proved last season that it is one of the toughest and deepest conferences in college basketball, and that requires us to assemble a schedule that will prepare our team for Big 12 play."
-- Head Coach Lon Kruger
Oklahoma’s schedule also features one exhibition contest, hosting Pittsburg State on Nov. 1 at Lloyd Noble Center.
The challenging non-conference schedule will help prepare the Sooners for another round-robin run through the Big 12 schedule. Eight of OU’s nine Big 12 opponents (Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech and West Virginia) qualified for the 2018 NCAA Tournament or NIT.
With the inclusion of Big 12 opponents, 12 of the 14 home games included in OU's season ticket package are against teams that have reached the NCAA Tournament at least once in the past two seasons.
Season tickets for OU men's basketball start at just $195 per seat. For more ticket information or to reserve your season ticket with a $50 deposit, contact the OU Athletics Ticket Office by phone at (800) 456-4668, by email at email@example.com or by clicking here.
The Sooners are coming off a trip to the 2018 NCAA Tournament and will return four of their top six scorers on a team highlighted by seniors Christian James, Rashard Odomes and Jamuni McNeace.
Oklahoma's final schedule, with conference games, tip times and TV information, will be announced on a later date.
|2018-19 Oklahoma Men's Basketball Non-Conference Schedule|
|Nov. 1||Pittsburg State (Exh.)||Norman||TBD|
|Nov. 9||at UTRGV||Edinburg, Texas||TBD|
|Nov. 12||at UTSA||San Antonio, Texas||TBD|
|Nov. 21||vs. TBD (Battle 4 Atlantis)+||Paradise Island, Bahamas||TBD|
|Nov. 22||vs. TBD (Battle 4 Atlantis)+||Paradise Island, Bahamas||TBD|
|Nov. 23||vs. TBD (Battle 4 Atlantis)+||Paradise Island, Bahamas||TBD|
|Nov. 27||North Texas||Norman||TBD|
|Dec. 4||vs. Notre Dame#||New York, N.Y.||6 p.m.|
|Dec. 8||Wichita State||Oklahoma City, Okla.*||TBD|
|Dec. 15||vs. Southern California||Tulsa, Okla.^||TBD|
|Dec. 21||at Northwestern||Evanston, Ill.||TBD|
# Jimmy V Classic Played at Madison Square Garden
* Played at Chesapeake Energy Arena
^ Played at BOK Center
% SEC/Big 12 Challenge
+ Battle 4 Atlantis Potential Opponents: Butler, Dayton, Florida, Middle Tennessee, Stanford, Wisconsin and Virginia
Dates and times are subject to change, all tip times are CT