Oklahoma Sooners

Kruger Looks To Remain Unbeaten In Season Openers When Sooners Host UTSA Tonight

M. Hofeld

matthofeld

Tip: 7:00 P.M.

Location: LNC

TV: FOX Sports Oklahoma

Going into his 10th season at Oklahoma, Lon Kruger has never dropped a season opener. It’s a streak that he’ll look to continue tonight when his Sooners host UTSA to open the 2020-21 college basketball season. While Kruger is 9-0 in his season openers, the program is on a 17-year streak, dating back to the 2003-04 season.

Non-Conference Dominance

In general the Sooners have been unkind to non-conference opponents. In just he last two seasons, OU is  32-6 record in its last 38 non-league regular-season games. In non-conference play since 2017-18, Oklahoma is 13-5 against major conference schools (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC) and 17-6 in games played away from Norman.

Oklahoma has won 18 straight home non-conference matchups (15 straight at Lloyd Noble Center). OU’s last nonconference home loss came in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge to Florida on Jan. 28, 2017.

Series History

Oklahoma owns a 5-0 all-time record against the Roadrunners and defeated UTSA, 85-67, last season. This will be the fourth straight season the Sooners have faced the Roadrunners. 

A Familiar Face

Beginning his fourth year at the helm of the UTSA program, Steve Henson spent nearly three decades of playing and working for Kruger. Henson was a four-year starting point guard for Kruger at Kansas State from 1986-90, earning All-Big Eight Conference honors as a junior and senior. Following his professional career, Henson got his start in coaching as an assistant for Kruger at Illinois in 1999 and went on to also be a member of Kruger’s staff with the Atlanta Hawks, UNLV and Oklahoma for a combined 15 seasons. When Henson was hired by UTSA, the Roadrunners were coming off a last-place 5-27 season. Just two years later, Henson coached UTSA to a 20-15 record and fifth-place finish in Conference USA, earning himself the 2018 C-USA Coach of the Year honors. 

Get Manek To Double Figures

During his career, OU is 43-19 when Brady Manek scores in double figures, 28-8 when he scores at least 15 points, 8-2 when he scores at least 20 and 13-4 when he hit four or more 3-pointers.

Eyeing The Scoring Title

Senior guard Austin Reaves finished sixth in the Big 12 in scoring last season with 14.7 points while also averaging 5.3 points and 3.0 assists. He also ranked second in the league in free throw shooting, making his foul shots at an 84.8% clip (seventh best in OU history). He was named an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention selection along with making the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team.

Who’s Gonna Be Next?

Reaves ended his 2019-20 season by fueling the largest road second-half comeback in Big 12 history. The guard willed the Sooners back from an 18-point halftime deficit at TCU on March 7 by scoring 41 points (25 in the second half) and sinking the game-winning bucket with 0.5 seconds remaining.

In addition to his 41 points, he added five rebounds, six assists and three blocks while going 15-of-16 from the foul line, joining Ben Simmons of LSU as the only Division I players in the last 20 years to have at least 40 points, five rebounds, five assists & three blocks in a game.

In the last six seasons, OU players have produced eight of the top 10 scoring performances by Big 12 players – including six of the top seven.

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