Seven Sooners score at least nine points in 10th-consecutive season-opening win.
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) --
Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger isn't too worried about slow starts one game into the season. Strong finishes are more of what he's interested in.
Starting his second season at Oklahoma, Kruger saw both Sunday as the Sooners shook off a slow start before picking it up for an 85-51 season-opening win against Louisiana-Monroe.
"We didn't open it really sharp," Kruger said. "I thought we were a little on our heels especially defensively, watching as opposed to dictating. We did create some opportunities with steals and that seemed to get us jump-started a little bit."
Stephen Pledger scored 15 points and three other Oklahoma players scored in double figures as the Sooners played deep into their bench.
The Sooners committed four turnovers in the first five minutes and missed six of seven shots.
Ten of the Warhawks' first 12 points came off Oklahoma turnovers before the Sooners found their rhythm 10 minutes in when Cameron Clark found Tyler Neal for an alley-oop dunk.
Oklahoma stepped up its defensive pressure in the half's final nine minutes, applying full-court pressure and trapping near halfcourt. The Sooners forced nine turnovers in the first 20 minutes and 14 for the game to lead 38-22 at halftime.
"For an opener, I thought there were stretches of a lot of good things and as you expect early there's a lot of things to work on," Kruger said.
Oklahoma rebounded and took care of the ball much better than during its pair of exhibition wins.
Oklahoma started the second half with more intensity than the first, outscoring the Warhawks 17-4 over the first five minutes.
The Warhawks, who were 3-26 last season and return just one starter, were also playing their first game. Amos Olatayo led ULM with 21 points. No other player scored more than seven.
Amath M'Baye and Andrew Fitzgerald each scored 12 for Oklahoma. Je'Lon Hornbeak added 10.
While the game was the first competition for Louisiana-Monroe this season, Oklahoma had the benefit of exhibition wins over Washburn (83-66) and Central Oklahoma (94-66) coming in.
Sunday's game provided Kruger, whose Sooners went 15-16 in his first season, with the opportunity to play 12 of 14 players on his roster, including freshman guard trio Buddy Hield, Hornbeak and Isaiah Cousins. The three combined for 70 minutes, 21 points and shot a combined 8 of 20 from the floor.
M'Baye was the fourth player to make his Oklahoma debut.
Oklahoma converted 9 of 23 shots from beyond the 3-point arc and dominated the glass, outrebounding the Warhawks 49-30.
Oklahoma's bench, which played most of the second half, outscored ULM's 37-14 for the game and 20-1 in the first half.
Led by Romero Osby's three blocks, Oklahoma recorded seven on the afternoon with M'Baye adding a pair and Hornbeak and Clark each blocking one shot.
Pledger's 15 points came during 18 minutes, nine in each half.
"This year, we've got a lot more depth and a lot of young guys that are really quick with the ball and off the ball," Osby said. "We've still got the returning guys that are able to do some really good things. The mixture of that -- with the depth -- is going to give us a boost."
Oklahoma has won 26 of its last 28 opening games and 33 of its last 34 home openers. The Sooners next play Friday at Texas-Arlington.