Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma Basketball vs. UTRGV | Here’s What You’ll Want To Know

M. Hofeld

matthofeld

Tip: 6:00 (CT)

Location: Lloyd Noble Center

TV:  FOX Sports Oklahoma

The Series

Oklahoma is 5-0 all-time against UTRGV, although the first four games were against the University of Texas-Pan American, which was consolidated into UTRGV in 2015. The Sooners opened the 2018-19 season on the road at UTRGV, claiming a 91-76 win.

Some Familiar Faces

The Vaqueros are in fourth season under head coach Lew Hill, who took the UTRGV job after six years on Lon Kruger’s staff at Oklahoma. A staple on Kruger’s staffs at both UNLV and OU for a combined 12 season, Hill assisted Kruger in making eight NCAA Tournaments – including the 2016 Final Four. Hill inherited a UTRGV squad that was 8-22 (4-10 in conference) during the season prior to his arrival (2015-16) and has already turned the program around to win 20 games in 2018-19.

Byron Peak is in his second season as special assistant to the head coach on UTRGV’s staff. Peak had spent the previous two seasons as a graduate assistant for the Sooners and was an OU student manager for the three seasons prior to his GA position. His younger brother, Keldon, is a student assistant on OU’s strength and conditioning staff.

Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger began his head coaching career at Texas-Pan American (now UTRGV) in 1982. Kruger inherited a squad that was 5-20 in the year prior to his arrival and helped guide the Broncs to a 20-8 (.714) record in his fourth season (1985-86) at the UTPA helm. The .714 winning percentage by the 1985-86 team is the highest in the program’s last 39 years. In his four seasons at Pan American, Kruger accumulated a 52-59 (.468) record before taking a job at his alma mater, Kansas State, in 1986. Kruger was inducted into UTRGV’s Athletics Hall of Fame and Hall of Honor in the fall of 2018.

Remember When?

Oklahoma opened the 2018-19 season with a 91-76 road victory at UTRGV. It was just the third time in the past 40 years the Sooners opened the year with a true road game.

The Sooners were led by a career performance from Christian James, who poured in a career-best 29 points. James sunk four 3-pointers (was 3-of-5 from deep in the first half) and added three rebounds and a pair of steals.

Forward Brady Manek recorded his first career double-double, racking up 12 points and 12 rebounds.

The Sooners shot 50 percent from the field and 11-of-23 (.478) from 3-point range.

The Streak

The Sooners have won 16 straight home non-conference matchups. OU is 48-4 at Lloyd Noble Center against nonconference opponents under Lon Kruger.

The Players

Oklahoma boasts three of the top eight scorers in the Big 12. Kristian Doolittle (16.7 points per game) is fourth in the league, followed closely by Austin Reaves (16.6 points) in fifth. Not far behind the duo is teammate Brady Manek, averaging 14.1 points, good for eigth in the league.

Oklahoma is one of only three major conference teams with two players averaging at least 16 points. The Sooners are also one of three major conference schools with three players scoring at least 14 points per game.

Free Points!

OU leads the Big 12 in free throw percentage, making 78.3% of its shots from the foul stripe. The Sooners, who shot free throws at a 69.7% rate in 2018-19, rank 16th in the country in 2019-20. Kentucky (78.5%) is the only majorconference team with a better free throw percentage.

Taking Care Of The Ball

The Sooners are turning the ball over just 9.8 times per game, which ranks second in the nation. Only Notre Dame (9.7) is turning the ball over less.

That’s Weird

Despite being 4-0 at home this season, Oklahoma is yet to lead at halftime inside Lloyd Noble Center.

Buckling Down

Oklahoma’s defense has been buckling down in the second half. In OU’s eight wins, opponents are shooting 37.7% from the field and 27.8% from 3-point range in the second half. In the final eight minutes of OU victories, opponents are 9-of43 (.209) from behind the arc.

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