Oklahoma basketball: Austin Reaves a key addition as Sooner starter

Wichita State transfer Austin Reaves has had an up and down season in his first year as an Oklahoma basketball starter, but he getting hot again at just the right time.

The 6-foot, 5-inch shooting guard has averaged 18.5 points in his last two games after failing to reach double digits in three of the five games before that.

Reaves and junior forward Brady Manek have been carrying most of the Sooners’ scoring load for the past month. Since Oklahoma’s loss at Iowa State a month ago, Reaves and Manek have combined for an average of 31 points a game, or a little less than 50 percent of OU’s points over the last eight games.

The Arkansas native has started all 22 Oklahoma games this season and is averaging 14.4 points a game, ninth best in the Big 12. H

He spent his first two seasons of college basketball at Wichita State. In 33 games (11 starts) his sophomore season, he averaged 8.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists. Where Reaves really shined was behind the three-point line. He made 43 percent of his three-point attempts (54 of 127) as a sophomore and was even better his freshman season, although with a smaller sample, making 28 of 55 for 51 percent.

Reaves elected to transfer to Oklahoma after his sophomore season at Wichita State. As a result, he sat out the 2018-19 season as a redshirt.

Reaves has scored 23 points twice this season and has five games of 20-plus points. He hit five of nine three-pointers in a win over Oregon State earlier this season and was four of eight from behind the three-point arc in the Sooners’ Big 12 season opener against Kansas State.

Perhaps his most complete game of the season, however, came two games ago in an Oklahoma home win over in-state rival Oklahoma State. Reaves scored 21 points against the Cowboys, highlighted by two breakaway slam dunks. He also contributed seven rebounds and six assists in the game.

“I just wanted to bring energy, do whatever it took to help us win,” Reaves told the OU student newspaper after the Oklahoma State win. “If I was diving on the floor — make an extra pass, whatever it takes, I mean, just keeping the guys up and moving forward.”

Even though Reaves’ season has been a little on and off, the one thing he does bring consistently every game is high energy and great spirit.

His three-point shooting is down this season, averaging just 26 percent on 32 of 125 three balls, but he has started finding the range against the last couple of games. And that is good news for the Sooners who desperately need his production in the difficult month of February.

 

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