Move over OU football, the men’s Oklahoma basketball team is making some early waves of its own.
The Sooners are off to a 5-0 start, their second best in eight seasons under head coach Lon Kruger, and headed to Kansas City, Mo., for the championship round of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Classic. Oklahoma will tip off against Stanford (6-0) in the second game on Monday night at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
Butler (6-0) will go up against Missouri (5-1), a former Big 12 school before moving to the SEC in 2011. The winner of the Monday night games will meet in the Hall of Fame Classic championship game on Tuesday. The losers on Monday will play a consolation game preceding Tuesday’s championship[ game.
The only other time Oklahoma started out a season 5-0 under Kruger was in 2015-16, when Buddy Hield and the Sooners ran off 12 consecutive wins and later advanced to the Final Four in the NCAA Basketball Championship.
The Sooners defeated Maryland Eastern Shore and William & Mary this week to advance to the championship round of the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City. Both wins were at Lloyd Noble Center, where Oklahoma has now won 14 consecutive games against nonconference opponents.
With two of OU’s five wins against Minnesota and Oregon State, the Sooners are the only Big 12 team with multiple wins over teams from a major conference this season.
Although the Sooners have come out on top in all five of their games this season, they trailed at halftime in three and were tied at intermission another. Oklahoma has clearly been a second-half team in its five wins.
The Sooners are averaging 46.0 points after halftime and just 33.8 points in the opening 20 minutes. They also are shooting the ball much better after intermission, 56 percent to 36 percent.
Three Sooners are averaging in double figures in the scoring column, led by Wichita State transfer Austin Reeves at 16.6. Senior forward Kristian Doolittle is right behind, averaging 16.5 points along with 10 rebounds in four games, followed by junior forward Brady Manek, who is scoring at a 13.8 clip in the early going. True freshman De’Vion Harmon is averaging 9.8 points peer contest through five games.
Five on five
- Brady Manek had 16 points in Oklahoma’s 91-64 win over Maryland Eastern Shore on Thursday. That gave him more than 800 points in his Sooner career. He is currently at 810.
- Oklahoma leads the Big 12 in free-throw shooting this season. The Sooners are shooting right at 80 percent from the charity stripe. That is 10-percent better than last season’s Sooner team.
- The Sooners are averaging 9.0 turnovers per game and committed a season-low four in their win over William & Mary last week. That was the lowest turnover game by Oklahoma in the Big 12 era.
- OU is 27-2 in games played in November and December since the start of the 2017-18 season.
- In the Sooners’ Thursday night win over Maryland Eastern Shore, Kristian Doolittle was perfect from the floor: Seven for seven from the field, three of three at the free-throw line and he hit his only three-point attempt, for a game-high total of 18 points.