Lon Kruger and the Oklahoma Sooners are looking to move to 5-0 on the season when they host winless Maryland Eastern Shore in the Lloyd Noble Center tonight. Here are ten things you’ll want to know ahead of the game.
10. Dooing A Lot
Oklahoma’s only senior, Kristian Doolittle is averaging 16.0 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.0 steals through three games. Earlier this week, he was named the Big 12 Player of the Week for the first time in his career after securing 19 points, 16 rebounds and four assists against Oregon State.
9. Second Half Surge
The Sooners have shot 53.3% during the second halves of their four games this season – including 29-of-39 (47.5%) from 3-point range – and are outscoring opponents by an average of 11.8 points. Defensively, OU is holding opponents to 37.3% shooting (25.4% from 3-point range) after halftime. Austin Reaves is averaging 11.3 second-half points.
8. Bon Voyage
Tonight’s matchup is Oklahoma’s last home matchup for exactly one month. The Sooners won’t play again in Norman until Saturday, Dec. 21 when they host UCF. OU is one of only three major-conference teams to play seven of its first 10 games away from home.
The Sooners hit the road for the first of five straight games away from home when they open the 2019 National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Classic against Stanford on Monday, Nov. 25, in Kansas City, Mo. Oklahoma and Stanford will tip at 8:30 p.m. CT on ESPN2 inside Sprint Center.
7. The Series
The Sooners have faced the Hawks three previous times, all since 2009. Oklahoma is 3-0 all-time against Maryland Eastern Shore and has won all three matchups by at least 24 points. Thursday is OU’s first matchup against the Hawks during the Lon Kruger era.
6. The Dynamic Duo
In Oklahoma’s 75-70 win over William & Mary the Sooners were led by two players with at least 18 points and eight boards. Doolittle produced 19 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals while junior Austin Reaves tallied 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
5. Owning The Non-Conference
Oklahoma has been dominant in non-conference play in recent seasons, boasting a combined 26-3 record in its last 29 non-league regular-season games. In non-conference play since 2017-18, Oklahoma is 11-3 against major conference schools (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC) and 14-3 in games played away from Norman.
4. Get Him The Ball
The Sooners almost always have team success on nights that junior forward Brady Manek is rolling. During his career, OU is 31-12 when Manek scores in double figures, 18-4 when he scores at least 15 points and 8-2 when he hit four or more 3-pointers.
Dating back to last season, Manek has scored in double figures in 17 of his last 20 games.
3. Turning The Roster Over
Oklahoma’s 15-man roster features nine new faces in 2019-20. OU has welcomed in five freshmen, two JUCO transfers and a pair of freshmen walk-ons. Head coach Lon Kruger believes the seven new scholarship players form the largest incoming class of his 34 year collegiate coaching career.
2. Not Taking The Easy Road
ESPN’s College Basketball Power Index has ranked the Sooners’ strength of schedule as one of the top-seven toughest in the country in each of the last five seasons. OU’s schedule was rated the seventh toughest at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season and the Sooners have another chance to add to that in 2019-20, facing a challenging double round-robin schedule in the Big 12 along with non-conference matchups against Minnesota, Oregon State, Stanford, Butler or Missouri, Wichita State, Creighton, UCF and Mississippi State.
Oklahoma is one of only 13 major-conference schools (of 75 teams) that have made six of the last seven NCAA Tournaments.
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