The men’s Oklahoma basketball team opened up its international exhibition tour in New Zealand and Australia with a decisive victory in Auckland over the New Zealand Select.
The Sooners steamrolled to a 133-91 victory to tip off their 11-day, five-game visit to the land “Down Under,” some 8,500 miles from the Norman campus.
The game did not start anything like it ended, with OU showing some offseason rust from the lack of game competition. The Sooners fell behind 14-2 early, but once they got their mojo going and got into rhythm they raced by their professional New Zealand opponent and never looked back.
Even more impressive than the wide margin of victory, though, was the performance of two newcomers this season, freshmen Trae Young and Brady Manek. Young scored 21 points and Manek 17, 15 of those coming in the first half, to lead the Sooners in the scoring column. Both players also made three three-point shots in the game.
Five Oklahoma players scored in double digits. Senior Khadeem Lattin contributed 16 points, Christian James added 13 and Rashard Odomes ended with 11. Four other Sooners tallied nine points apiece and two others scored eight.
The Sooners led 33-30 after one quarter and 66-55 at the half. In the second half, Oklahoma outscored the New Zealand team by 31 points, 67-36. Finishing out games was an area the young Sooners had difficulty with last season.
Oklahoma ramped up its defensive intensity in the second half, holding New Zealand Select to 42-percent shooting after allowing their Kiwi opponent to score at a 60-percent clip in the opening half. The Sooners shot 60 percent from the field for the game.
The game was very special for OU sophomore Matt Freeman, who was back in his hometown of Auckland. The 6-foot, 10-inch Sooner forward scored eight points, including two three-point field goals.
The Sooners scoring was evenly distributed over the four quarters. They scored 33 points in the first, second and fourth periods and 34 in the third.
Head coach Lon Kruger and his Oklahoma team now travel to Sydney, Australia, where they will play next on Wednesday against the Sutherland Shark and Thursday against the Sydney Kings.