Sooners Back Home to Host North Texas
TUESDAY'S GAME BASICS
Back in the United States after going 2-1 at Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, Oklahoma (5-1, 0-0 Big 12) is set to host undefeated North Texas (8-0, 0-0 C-USA) on Tuesday. The matchup is the Sooners’ lone game at Lloyd Noble Center over a 29-day stretch and comes against an experienced Mean Green squad that has won 13 of its last 14 games dating back to last season.
Oklahoma has won 17 of its last 19 games at the LNC. The Sooners have won 133 of its last 140 non-conference games in Norman and 67 of its last 71. The Sooners are 41-4 at LNC against non-conference opponents under Kruger.
ON THE AIR
Tuesday’s matchup will air on the Sooner Radio Network (KOKC 1500 AM in Oklahoma City; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa; Tune In Radio App) with Toby Rowland and Kevin Henry announcing. Chad McKee and Bryndon Manzer will call the action on Fox Sports Oklahoma and Fox College Sports Atlantic. Fans with proper cable verification can also stream the game on the Fox Sports Go App and FoxSportsGo.com.
Tickets are available starting at just $10 at the OU Athletics Ticket Office (800-456-4668) and online here. Lloyd Noble Center's north and east ticket windows will open at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
OU students will be admitted free to the game with a valid school I.D.
IN THE BONUS
• Looking for a deal on your pregame meal? Fans with a ticket to Tuesday's game will receive a buy-one, get-one BBQ sandwich at Rudy's, located at Highway 9 and Chautauqua Avenue.
• The OU Bookstore is offering season ticket holders an opportunity to save on Sooner gear heading into the holiday season. Season ticket holders will receive a coupon for up to 30% off of a purchase. Between OU's first three games (Pittsburg State on Nov. 1, Wofford on Nov. 18 and North Texas on Nov. 27), fans can build up their discount, starting with 10% off for attending one game, 20% off for attending two games and 30% off for attending all three. Coupons will be sent in early December.
• OU students with student season tickets can pick up their free BoomSquad t-shirt upon entering the north student entrance.
• Fans are encouraged to #ArriveSooner to avoid delays into the gates with enhanced screenings. OU's clear bag policy will also be in efffect. For more gameday tips at Lloyd Noble Center, visit the LNC's information page.
• Senior guard Christian James is coming off one of the strongest three-game stretches of his career, averaging 19.0 points (shooting .500), 4.7 rebounds and going 11-of-23 (.478) from 3-point range at the Battle 4 Atlantis. James scored the second-most points in the prestigious field and was named to the all-tournament team. Averaging 20.8 points per game, James remains the Big 12’s leading scorer.
• While James came away with an all-tournament team recognition, senior center Jamuni McNeace was also a crucial part of Oklahoma’s success at Battle 4 Atlantis. McNeace swatted a total of 12 shots in the Bahamas (had only one in the first three games of the season) and averaged 10.7 points - including a 16-point performance in OU’s win over Dayton (one shy of his career high).
• The Sooners are coming off of one of their best defensive performances in recent memory. Oklahoma allowed only 54 points against Dayton on Friday - the fewest it has allowed in a game away from home since 2015. The Flyers missed 21 of their final 25 shots and the Sooners’ gave up only 13 points in the last 16:40 of the game. OU showed promising defense in five of the six halves it played in the Bahamas, forcing its opponents to shoot a combined 35.8 percent in the Florida and Dayton games plus the first half of the Wisconsin matchup. The Sooners gave up 64.0 points per game in Atlantis – the third-lowest opponent average in the Big 12 last week.
The Sooners have started every season 5-1 or better under Lon Kruger.
SERIES HISTORY: NORTH TEXAS
• OU is 5-1 all-time against the Mean Green and has won the last five meetings. The Sooners won a meeting with the Mean Green last season, 82-72, in Norman. OU is 2-0 against UNT during the Kruger era.
• UNT’s lone win in the series came in 1966.
• Oklahoma is 39-6 all-time against current members of Conference USA and is 5-1 against CUSA teams during the Kruger era. OU faced and defeated UTSA earlier this month.
RECAPPING OU'S WIN OVER DAYTON
• Oklahoma (5-1, 0-0 Big 12) captured third place in Battle 4 Atlantis with a win over Dayton (4-2, 0-0 Atlantic 10) on Friday on Paradise Island, Bahamas. The Sooners used a strong defensive showing in the second half to fight past the Flyers and improve to 4-1 all-time against Dayton.
• Dayton’s 54 points are the fewest points allowed by OU in a game away from home since Oklahoma State scored 49 points against the Sooners in the quarterfinals of the 2015 Big 12 Championship. The Flyers are just the second team to score under 55 points on OU over the past three seasons.
• The Sooners led by as many as 14 in the opening half before Dayton closed the gap to get within six at halftime. The Flyers then took a 41-34 lead with 16:40 remaining before OU’s defense took over. The Sooners outscored the Flyers 31-13 and gave up only 4 UD buckets (on 25 shots) the rest of the way.
• Graduate guard Miles Reynolds sealed the Sooner victory by scoring all of OU’s final 10 points. Reynolds was clutch at the foul line all night, going 13-of-14 from the charity stripe and totaling 17 points in the win.
• Senior guard Christian James led OU’s offensive efforts with 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting (4-of-8 from beyond the arc). James added five rebounds and a career-high-tying four assists.
• Senior center Jamuni McNeace put together his best game of the season to date, producing 16 points (7-of-11 shooting), eight rebounds, four blocks and a pair of assists.
ZERO HAS BEEN THE HERO
• Senior guard Christian James continues to be the Sooners’ go-to scorer through the early weeks of the season. James entered the season as Oklahoma’s top returning scorer (averaged 11.9 points per game in 2017-18), but has shown improvement in nearly all assetts of his game. Through six games, James has scored at least 15 points in every game - including three games of at least 20 points.
• With an average of 20.8 points per game, James has an early lead in the Big 12 scoring race. Seeing a Sooner on top of the conference’s scoring list is nothing new for Oklahoma, as an OU player has led the Big 12 in scoring in three of the previous four seasons (Trae Young in 2017-18; Buddy Hield in 2015-16 and 2014-15).
• James entered the season with only two career games of reaching 20 points. It took him only six games of his senior season to reach three 20-point games in this campaign alone.
• While playing in Battle 4 Atlants, one of the most prestigious early-season tournaments in college basketball, James averaged 19.0 points (shooting .500), 4.7 rebounds and went 11-of-23 (.478) from 3-point range to help lead OU to a 2-1 showing. His 57 total points at Battle 4 Atlantis were the second most among participating players and aided him in being named to the event’s all-tournament team.
FORTUNE FAVORS THE OLD
• Last season’s Sooner squad was one of the youngest teams in both the Big 12 and the country. With nine freshmen and sophomores and only one senior, Oklahoma was the second least-experienced team in the conference, according to KenPom.com. The analytics website’s formula, based on age and collegiate playing experience, ranked the Sooners 304 out of 351 Division I teams in experience. It will be a different story for Oklahoma this season, as its roster now features eight seniors or graduate students and only one scholarship freshman. Using the same KenPom experience metric, Oklahoma is No. 24 in experience this season and No. 1 among teams from major conferences.
• Through the combination of time and targeting experienced transfers in recruiting, the Sooners now boast the most seniors and graduates of any team in the Big 12. With seven more seniors/graduates than 2017-18, Oklahoma owns the largest-known increase of seniors in NCAA Division I this season. The Sooners’ average age on opening night in 2017 was 19.9. On the day of OU’s 2018 season opener (Nov. 9), the Oklahoma roster was an average age of 21.1 and the oldest in the Big 12.
• Christian James, Rashard Odomes and Jamuni McNeace form the core group of OU seniors, as all three have spent at least three years in the Sooners’ program. The trio combines for 284 games of collegiate experience and 117 starts. Both James and Odomes have been consistent members of OU’s starting lineup over the past three seasons, while McNeace continued to see his role expanded as the 2017-18 season progressed. James’ 11.9 points per game last season are the most among returning players while McNeace led Sooner returners in rebounds (5.4) and blocked shots (1.4). With a 7-foot-4 wingspan and one of the most athletic builds on the team, McNeace is gearing towards having a breakout senior season as the Sooners’ starting center.
• Oklahoma also installed significant experience and leadership into its roster through the addition of two graduate transfer guards: Aaron Calixte and Miles Reynolds. An experienced point guard from the University of Maine, Calixte brings career averages of 11.6 points and 3.0 assists. With 1,125 career points to his name, Calixte averaged 16.9 points per game and shot 61-of-158 (.386) from 3-point range in 2017-18. Calixte faces the challenge of filling OU’s point guard role, left open by Trae Young’s top-five selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, but will rely on his own experience at the position along with veteran players surrounding him. Reynolds joins the Sooners after two seasons at Pacific, where he scored 13.3 points a game last season. The guard has experience at both the point guard position and playing off the ball and aims to lend a veteran voice to the court and locker room. In the team’s annual player poll, Reynolds’ teammates voted him the best vocal leader and one of OU’s best leaders by example.
UP NEXT: NOTRE DAME
• The Sooners have a week between games before facing Notre Dame at Madison Square Garden as part of the Jimmy V Classic. The Sooners and Irish clash on Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN.
• Oklahoma and Notre Dame will face each other for the first time in men’s basketball. The Fighting Irish are one of four ACC teams the Sooners have yet to face on the hardwood along with Boston College, Miami and Wake Forest. OU is 16-16 all-time against current members of the ACC.
• The Sooners will be a part of the Jimmy V Classic for the first time in the event’s 24-year history. The early-season showcase will be part of the 12th annual V Week for Cancer Research – the weeklong initiative across multiple ESPN platforms and programs featuring special content to help raise funds for cancer research. Over the past 11 years, V Week has raised $22.2 million for cancer research.
• The Sooners have played 20 previous games at Madison Square Garden, going 7-13 inside the arena. OU has won its last three contests at MSG, including the semifinals and championship games of the 2009 Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off. The Jimmy V Classic will be OU’s first trip to New York City since playing in the 2013 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.