If you though the 2016-17 Oklahoma Sooners was only going to be the Jordan Woodard show then they have already proved you wrong. Sunday’s 97-61 season-opening win against Northwestern State saw a total of 10 OU players score, with four of them doing so in double figures.
Woodard did produce 16 points and showed all the leadership qualities that you would expect from the floor general, but it was two of his teammates that had folks buzzing after the game. Freshman Matt Freeman made his Sooners debut count by scoring 15 points off the bench in 18 minutes of action and most notably indicating that Oklahoma’s bench could be a strong factor this season.
“I think the depth of this team will be a strength as we get into the year,” OU head coach Lon Kruger said after the game. “Different guys providing different things. Obviously, Matt (Freeman) knocking down shots, and Darrion (Strong-Moore) pushing the ball in transition, I thought Jordan Shepherd played well today. Kameron (McGusty) can give us some scoring, different guys at different times. Jamuni (McNeace) getting us the second game in a row with 10 buckets out of that five spot out of Khadeem (Lattin) and Jamuni, so that’s awfully good production out of there so, this will be a deep group.”
Junior forward Khadeem Lattin showed that he can be a lot more than a defensive presence of the floor. He hit 7-of-9 shots for a career-high 19 points, while also blocking two shots and grabbing 11 rebounds. This is potentially great news for the Sooners if he can continue to produce numbers like that throughout the season. A player that was often thought of as having untapped potential. It looks as if Lattin is ready for his breakout season.
“This group’s going to make progress all the way through March,” Kruger said. “Different guys getting to the free throw line now and getting more comfortable there. Identifying their role offensively, identifying when they come off the bench what their role is going to be, it’s going to be a work in progress for a while. But, it’ll be exciting to see where they go and who’s steps up and who assumes what roles. This team being that much different from last year, that’s one of the more intriguing and enjoyable parts of this team – the uncertainty of what lies ahead and seeing who does what.”