Oklahoma basketball: Sooner men back in action vs. Central Arkansas

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

There is a giant football game on tap tonight that will attract the interest of most Sooner fans, but it isn't the only game on the schedule involving an OU team. Another 10-win team will be in action in the form of men's Oklahoma basketball.

The Sooner men return to the hardwood after a week layoff, hosting Central Arkansas at Lloyd Noble Center.

The 10-1 Sooners are coming off an 81-69 loss to then-No. 11 North Carolina. The loss was OU's first of the season, but they should be able to return to their winning ways against 3-10 Central Arkansas.

Thursday night's game is one of three consecutive home games for the Sooners, where they are 7-0 this season. The Sooners are 71-25 at home since 2017 and have an 82.8 winning percentage since Lloyd Noble Center opened in 1973. That is second to only Kansas (87.9) among Big 12 teams.

Oklahoma has two games remaining in its 2023-24 nonconference schedule. The Sooners will host Monmouth (New Jersey), out of the Coastal Athletic Association, on Sunday before beginning Big 12 play on Jan. 6 against Iowa State.

This is the fourth meeting all-time between OU and Central Arkansas. The Sooners have won all three of the previous games.

Oklahoma enters the game as the country's 12th-ranked team and No. 20 in the NCAA NET rankings. The Sooners are one of eight Big 12 teams in the top 50 of the NET rankings. Central Arkansas ranks 355th in the NET rankings and is 12th out of 12 teams in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

These two teams are remarkably close in a number of statistical categories, but the two that stand out with the greatest discrepancy are scoring and shooting percentage. And that's all you need to know to understand why the Sooners are so heavily favored in Thursday's game (-29.5).

The Bears average 69.1 points per game with a field goal percentage of 39.6, while the Sooners average 83.0 points per game and shoot 50 percent from the field. You can check out the overall statistical comparison in the Oklahoma game notes for this game.

Key players on both sides


Sophomore guard Otega Oweh leads the Sooners in scoring with a 15.6 average. He is coming off of a career-high 23-point game against North Carolina in OU's last outing. He has scored 20-plus points three times this season. Oweh is tied for third in the Big 12 with 2.4 steals per game.

Junior guard Javian McCollum, a transfer from Siena, is OU's second leading scorer, averaging 14.3 points a game. He leads the Big 12 this season with a 95 percent average (19 of 20) at the free-throw line and ranks seventh among Division I active career leaders in free-throw percentage (88.6).

John Hugely IV, a redshirt junior transfer from Pittsburgh, averages 9.8 points per game, third-best on the Sooner roster and is second on the team in rebounding, averaging 5.1 boards per game.

Central Arkansas

Freshman forward Tucker Anderson leads Arkansas State with a 14.0 scoring average and is 37-percent from three-point range .

Junior guard Elias Cato averages 10.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

Senior guard Masai Olowokere is averaging 8.8 points, 3.3 rebounds per game and shoots 50 percent from the field.