Sooners host NCAA Division II power Washburn on Friday at 7 p.m.
||Senior guard Steven Pledger
The Sooners play their first of two preseason exhibition games when they host Washburn on Friday at 7 p.m. CT at Lloyd Noble Center. OU, which finished 15-16 last year, is starting its second season under head coach Lon Kruger. Washburn is ranked No. 4 in the NABC's preseason NCAA Division II poll and is coming off an 81-61 loss at Kansas State on Tuesday. The Ichabods, coached by Kruger's former Kansas State teammate Bob Chipman, went 25-8 last season. Both squads return all five starters.
ON THE AIR
Friday's contest will air on the Sooner Radio Network (KEBC 1560 AM in Oklahoma City; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa) with Brock Bowling and Mike Houck announcing. The game will be televised by Sooner Sports TV (FS Oklahoma Plus and FOX College Sports) with Chad McKee and Billy Tubbs calling the action. A webcast replay will be offered for free on SoonerSports.tv.
• Tickets are available for $5, $10 and $20 at the OU Athletics Ticket Office and online at SoonerSports.com. Lloyd Noble Center's north and east ticket windows will open at 5 p.m. on Friday.
• OU students will be admitted free with a valid school I.D. starting at 5:30 p.m.
FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Oklahoma and Washburn have met four times, with the Sooners winning each occasion. Included were a 55-20 win in the 1909-10 season and an 85-59 exhibition victory last year.
• OU has compiled a 45-2 exhibition record over the last 24 years. Its last exhibition loss came in 2003.
• The teams' head coaches (OU's Lon Kruger and Washburn's Bob Chipman) were teammates at Kansas State and led the Wildcats to Big Eight titles in 1972 and '73.
• Steven Pledger is the Big 12's leading returning scorer (16.2 ppg), Romero Osby is the Big 12's leading returning rebounder (7.3 rpg), Andrew Fitzgerald is the Big 12's leading returner in field goal percentage (.469; minimum of 5.0 makes per game) and Sam Grooms led the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.8) and ranked second in assists (6.0 apg)..
• Junior forward Amath M'Baye makes his debut in an OU uniform Friday night. The transfer, who played as a freshman and sophomore at Wyoming, is the Preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.
• Thanks to the loss of just one scholarship senior from last season (forward C.J. Washington averaged 2.0 points and 3.4 rebounds), the Sooners return the bulk of their production in every statistical category for 2012-13. That includes 88 percent of the team's points, 81 percent of its rebounds, 78 percent of its assists, 77 percent of its blocks and 74 percent of its steals. OU also returns 82 percent of its 3-point field goal and 87 percent of its free throw production.
• OU welcomes back its top six scorers from last season, including all five starters. Andrew Fitzgerald, Sam Grooms and Romero Osby each started all 31 contests. Steven Pledger started 30 games while Cameron Clark started 28.
• The trio of Fitzgerald, Osby and Pledger accounted for 64 percent of the Sooners' points in Big 12 play last season (746 of 1,164) and 49 percent of its rebounds (277 of 567).
| Sooner to Watch
Amath M'Baye | Jr. | Forward
• Makes his debut in an OU uniform after transferring from University of Wyoming
• Voted Preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year by the league's head coaches
• Averaged 12.0 points and team-high 5.7 rebounds for Cowboys as a sophomore
• Averaged 18.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in two games vs. Lon Kruger's UNLV team
• The Sooners welcome nine newcomers to the roster, with four of them expected to play significant roles in 2012-13.
• Junior forward Amath M'Baye (6-8, 208) sat out last year after transferring from Wyoming and was voted the Preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year by league coaches. He averaged 12.0 points and a team-high 5.7 rebounds as a sophomore for the Cowboys in 2010-11.
• A trio of 6-3 freshman guards will also see plenty of playing time, with two of them expected to start Friday versus Washburn. Isaiah Cousins is a three-star recruit from Mount Vernon, N.Y., who will likely start at point guard. Cousins averaged 15.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game last year to earn New York's Section 1 "Mr. Basketball" honors. Je'lon Hornbeak is also expected to start in the backcourt. Hornbeak was rated as the nation's No. 102 recruit last year by Rivals.com and averaged 12.0 points and 7.5 rebounds for a talent-laden Grace Prep Academy squad out of Arlington, Texas. Buddy Hield is a noted scorer who, like Hornbeak, was a four-star recruit by Rivals. Ranked 86th nationally, Hield averaged 22.7 points and 4.0 rebounds in only 21.0 minutes per game last year for Sunrise Christian Academy outside of Wichita, Kan. From the Bahamas, Hield led OU by averaging 18.0 points over its pair of public intrasquad games the last two weeks.
• Also new are sophomore guard Jarrod Kruger (6-1, 181), sophomore Gonzaga transfer Ryan Spangler (6-8, 227), junior college transfer D.J. Bennett (6-8, 210) and freshman walk-on forwards C.J. Cole (6-6, 225) and Steve Noworyta (6-7, 200). Kruger, the nephew of head coach Lon Kruger, began his career at Kansas State in 2010-11 (was on team during fall semester) and sat out at OU last season. Spangler, a forward who averaged 2.5 points and 2.4 rebounds as a freshman last year, has impressed in early season practices but will sit out the 2012-13 campaign due to transfer regulations. Bennett will redshirt this season after averaging 7.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocked shots at Indian Hills (Iowa) Community College. Cole, an Oklahoma native, attended Sperry High School and averaged 21.6 points and a state-high 16.6 rebounds per game last year to earn his third all-state honor. He will also redshirt this season. Noworyta hails from Hainesport, N.J.
• Located in Topeka, Kan., NCAA Division II member Washburn University is a school of 7,500 students that competes in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association. Washburn finished 25-8 overall last year and won the MIAA regular season and conference tournament before losing in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
• The Ichabods, who welcome back all five starters from last year, return 90 percent of their scoring and 94 percent of their rebounding. They are ranked No. 4 in the NABC's preseason national poll and are led by All-America senior guard Will McNeill, who averaged 20.2 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting .484 from the field and knocking down 2.3 treys per game. Fellow senior guard Martin Mitchell averaged 10.2 points per contest.
• Washburn lost an exhibition game at Kansas State on Tuesday, 81-61. K-State used a 22-0 run to take a 28-7 lead before the Ichabods outscored them 54-53 the rest of the way. Washburn shot .354 from the field, .357 from 3-point range (5-for-14) and .500 from the foul line (13-for-26). McNeill scored a team-high 12 points and pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds while Joseph Smith added 10 points.
• The Ichabods are under the direction of longtime head coach Bob Chipman, who was a college teammate of OU head coach Lon Kruger at Kansas State in the early 1970s (the pair helped the Wildcats to back-to-back Big Eight regular season titles in 1971-72 and 1972-73). Chipman is in his 34th season at Washburn, where he owns a 721-296 (.709) record. He has racked up 12 regular season conference championships and won the 1987 NAIA national title.
Friday's game will mark the fifth between Oklahoma and Washburn, and the second as an exhibition. The Sooners won regular season meetings over the Ichabods in 1909-10 (55-20 in Norman under head coach Bennie Owen), 1930-31 (30-27 in Topeka under head coach Hugh McDermott) and 1972-73 (79-55 in Norman under head coach John MacLeod).
Last year, OU posted an 85-59 home exhibition win over Washburn behind 24 points from Steven Pledger and 14 from Andrew Fitzgerald. Pledger was 5-for-7 from 3-point range while Fitzgerald went 5-for-8 from the field. Will McNeill was the only Ichabod in double figures with 23 points. He was 10-for-12 from the free throw line. The Sooners registered a 49-29 rebounding advantage and shot .474 from the field to Washburn's .316 mark.
Friday's contest will mark the ninth time for OU head coach Lon Kruger to face a Bob Chipman-coached Washburn team. Kruger beat Washburn once while the head coach at Pan American and six times while the head coach at UNLV (five exhibitions and one regular season game).
FIELD HOUSE SERIES UP NEXT
The Sooners will play the second of two exhibition games when they host NCAA Division II foe Central Oklahoma on Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT. as part of OU's inaugural Field House Series. The game will be held at McCasland Field House in the heart of OU's campus. Tickets are just $5 for the general public, while OU students will be admitted free (physical ticket still required). The Bronchos are coached by Terry Evans, who starred for the Sooners in the early 1990s under former head coach Billy Tubbs.
OU will play a regular season Field House Series game Dec. 31 at 2 p.m. against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
SOONER SPORTS TV
Eight of OU's 2012-13 contests will be televised by Sooner Sports TV powered by FOX Sports. Launched in September 2012, the network provides the most comprehensive coverage of the Sooners ever offered. Distributed on a variety of existing FOX Sports outlets including FS Oklahoma, FS Southwest and FOX College Sports, Sooner Sports TV programming blocks reach approximately nine million homes in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.