Christian James has lived like it’s Groundhog Day at Oklahoma. As a true freshman he backed up Buddy Hield in Oklahoma’s run to the Final Four. As a sophomore he felt the weight of putting the team on his shoulders and it was too much to bear. His junior year he returned to a backup role as Trae Young took center stage in one of the most acclaimed freshman campaigns in OU Basketball history. Now, as a senior, James is back in the spotlight as a key player in Oklahoma’s success and, if the opener is any indication, he’s ready.
In leading the Sooners to a 91-76 win at UT Rio Grande Valley, James set a new career high in scoring with 29 points on 9-17 shooting.
A barrage of early three-point shots helped the Sooners to build a 23-11 first half lead but UTRGV wasn’t going to buckle that early. An 11-3 run by the Vaqueros pulled them to within 26-24. Oklahoma just had too much firepower though and a 3-ball by James at the buzzer sent the Sooners into the locker room with a 43-31 lead after twenty minutes.
Outscoring UTRGV 48-45 in the second half, Oklahoma was able to keep their distance in route to Lon Krugers 8th consecutive season opening win as OU’s head coach.
James was joined by graduate-transfer guard Aaron Calixte (15) and sophomore forward Brady Manek (12) in double-figure scoring. Manek also pulled down twelve rebounds to produce a double-double.
The Sooners remain on the road Monday night to face UTSA.