Sooners begin 106th season of men's hoops at 2 p.m. at Lloyd Noble Center.
||Senior forward Romero Osby
Oklahoma begins its 106th season of varsity basketball when its hosts ULM on Sunday at 2 p.m. CT at Lloyd Noble Center. The Sooners, under the direction of second-year head coach Lon Kruger, posted 83-66 and 94-66 exhibition wins over NCAA Division II opponents Washburn and Central Oklahoma, respectively. ULM, which finished 3-26 last season under head coach Keith Richard, did not play an exhibition game this year.
ON THE AIR
Sunday's contest will air on the Sooner Radio Network (KOKC 1520 AM in Oklahoma City; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa) with Toby Rowland and Mike Houck calling the action. The game will be televised by Sooner Sports TV (FS Southwest and FOX College Sports Central) with Chad McKee, Billy Tubbs and Jessica Coody announcing. A webcast replay will be offered for free on SoonerSports.tv.
Tickets are available for $10, $20 and $30 at the OU Athletics Ticket Office and online here. Lloyd Noble Center's north and east ticket windows will open at noon on Sunday.
OU students may purchase a ticket for $10.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
Oklahoma returns 88 percent of its point production from last season, but received 54 percent of its two-game exhibition output this year from four newcomers. Freshman Buddy Hield averaged a team-high 17.5 points per exhibition contest, junior Amath M'Baye averaged 12.5, freshman Je'lon Hornbeak contributed 10.5 and freshman Isaiah Cousins averaged 7.5. The foursome combined to shoot .517 from the field and .591 from 3-point range (13-for-22).
Oklahoma has won 32 of its last 33 home openers. The only home-opening loss since 1978 was an 84-83 defeat at the hands of Massachusetts to start the 1993-94 season.
The Sooners enter the 2012-13 season as winners of 34 straight home non-conference games and 92 of the last 94 such contests.
Senior Steven Pledger is the Big 12's leading returning scorer (16.2 ppg), senior Romero Osby is the Big 12's leading returning rebounder (7.3 rpg), senior Andrew Fitzgerald is the Big 12's leading returner in field goal percentage (.469; minimum of 5.0 makes per game) and senior Sam Grooms led the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.8) and ranked second in assists (6.0 apg).
OU owns a 4-0 all-time record against ULM, with all games played at Lloyd Noble Center. The Sooners won 72-61 in the most recent meeting in the second game of the 2009-10 season.
The University of Louisiana at Monroe returns one regular starter and just five letterwinners from last year's 3-26 squad (finished 2-14 in Sun Belt Conference play). The Warhawks, who return 46 percent of their scoring and 31 percent of their rebounding from last season, welcome six newcomers to the roster for 2012-13.
Nine of ULM's losses last year were by single digits (seven defeats were by five or fewer points).
Junior point guard Marcelis Hansberry and sophomore guard Trent Mackey are the Warhawks' leading statistical returnees. Hansberry made eight starts last year and averaged 5.8 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 18.1 minutes per outing. Over the season's final seven games, he averaged 11.3 points. Mackey started 12 games and also averaged 5.8 points to go along with 1.6 boards in 22.0 minutes a game. He ranked fifth in the Sun Belt by shooting .433 from 3-point range (42-for-97).
Expected starters Jayon James and Amos Olatayo are junior college transfers who have previous Division I experience. James is a 6-6, 235-pound forward who began his career at Iona College, where he played in 10 games in 2010-11 before sustaining a broken foot. Olatayo is a 6-4, 190-pound guard who started his career at Stephen F. Austin and averaged 4.3 points as a freshman in 2010-11.
ULM has posted a 10-50 record under head coach Keith Richard, who is in his third year at the school. A 1982 ULM graduate, he is in his 12th year overall and owns a 160-167 career record.
| Sooner to Watch
Buddy Hield | Fr. | Guard
Averaged team-high 17.5 points in OU's two exhibition games
Made 6 of his 8 3-point attempts in exhibition play (.750)
Came off bench in both games but led team with 23.0 minutes average
A 4-star recruit by Rivals.com (ranked 86th nationally coming out of high school)
Sunday's game will mark the fifth between OU and ULM, with each of the previous four contests taking place at Lloyd Noble Center. The Sooners won the first three meetings when the Warhawks went by the name of Northeast Louisiana Indians -- 101-95 in 1984-85, 104-70 in 1993-94 and 95-68 in the 1996-97 season opener. OU also posted a 72-61 win over ULM in the second game of the 2009-10 season. Current Sooners Steven Pledger and Andrew Fitzgerald were freshmen that year. Pledger scored eight points in 16 minutes in the contest while Fitzgerald was scoreless in eight minutes of action. No current Warhawks were on the ULM roster in 2009-10.
The Sooners have won 25 of their last 27 season-opening games, with the only losses during those 27 years coming to Alabama (68-62 in New York City) in 2002-03 and Massachusetts (84-83 in Norman) in 1993-94. OU has won 32 of its last 33 home openers.
BUNCH OF HOMERS
Oklahoma has dominated home non-conference games over the last decade, winning 92 of its last 94 non-league contests inside Lloyd Noble Center going back to Jan. 3, 2000 (good for a .977 winning percentage). Included was a streak of 49 non-conference home victories that was snapped by Villanova on Dec. 6, 2006. The current string stands at 34 games.
UCO EXHIBITION RECAP
The Sooners used an 18-0 first-half run to distance themselves from Central Oklahoma in an eventual 94-66 win Wednesday at McCasland Field House on OU's campus. It was just the second game played in the building since 1975.
OU outscored the Bronchos by 19 from the free throw line. The Sooners were 33-for-43 while UCO was 14-for-24.
Freshman Buddy Hield scored a game-high 19 points in just 22 minutes off the bench. He was 3-for-4 from 3-point range.
Also scoring in double figures were freshman Je'lon Hornbeak (15 points) and juniors Amath M'Baye (11) and Tyler Neal (10). Neal pulled down a game-high nine rebounds while senior forward Andrew Fitzgerald pulled down eight.
OU's 94 points were more than it scored in any regular season game last year (high was 92).
WASHBURN EXHIBITION RECAP
Oklahoma posted an 83-66 exhibition win over NCAA Division II Washburn on Nov. 2 at Lloyd Noble Center, as four newcomers accounted for more than half of OU's scoring. Freshman Buddy Hield finished with a team-high 16 points, junior Amath M'Baye tallied 14 and freshmen Isaiah Cousins and Je'lon Hornbeak netted nine and six, respectively. OU led 40-28 at halftime and was up by as many as 21 in the second half.
The Sooners outscored the Ichabods by 27 points from 3-point range. OU was 11-for-22 (.500) from deep, while Washburn was 2-for-8 (.250). Hield (3-for-4), Cousins (3-for-4) and Hornbeak (2-for-2) went a combined 8-for-10 from beyond the arc.
OU registered a modest 40-36 advantage on the boards. M'Baye and Romero Osby led with six rebounds apiece, while Hield and Cameron Clark pulled down five each.
After going 8-for-16 from the free throw line in the first half, OU went 14-for-16 in the second. It finished 22-for-32 (.688).
MORE ON THE EXHIBITIONS
The Sooners outshot their two exhibition opponents from the field (.419 to .382), 3-point range (.400 to .231) and free throw line (.733 to .667).
The freshman guard trio of Buddy Hield (17.5), Je'lon Hornbeak (10.5) and Isaiah Cousins (7.5) combined to average 35.5 points per contest while shooting .650 from 3-point distance (13-for-20). Cousins and Hornbeak started both games while Hield averaged a team-high 23.0 minutes per contest.
Preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Amath M'Baye averaged 12.5 points, 5.5 boards and 2.0 blocked shots while shooting .538 from the field. He totaled team highs of 11 free throw makes and 13 attempts (.846).
Oklahoma outscored its two opponents from 3-point range by a total of 36 points. The Sooners were 18-for-45 (.400) from behind the arc while Washburn and UCO combined to go 6-for-26 (.231). Last season, OU was outscored by an average of 8.4 points per game from 3-point distance (opponents made 228 treys to OU's 141).
The Sooners hit the road for a 7 p.m. CT Friday contest at UT Arlington. The Mavericks went 24-9 last year and went 15-1 in the Southland Conference (they are now in the Western Athletic Conference). The game will be played at the new College Park Center and will be televised by Sooner Sports TV.
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.