Oklahoma is returning a lot of talent to a NCAA tournament team and they’ll be among the top candidates again the Big 12 next season. Before playing in the conference schedule in 2015-16, the Sooners will challenge themselves with many tough opponents. The team announced their non-conference schedule late this week.
Oklahoma starts the season with a road game at Memphis before hosting Wisconsin and playing a neutral site game against Villanova in Hawai’i.
After returning home for home games against Oral Roberts and Creighton, the Sooners return to Honolulu to play in the Diamond Head Classic. The field for that event includes Auburn, BYU, Harvard, Hawai’i, New Mexico, Northern Iowa and Washington State.
“Without a doubt this is one of the most ambitious non-conference schedules we have ever put together,” Kruger said in the release. “But given the experienced makeup of our team, we feel it is appropriate. Our guys are looking forward to the many challenges in non-conference play and have been working hard since the end of last season to give us the best chance of being successful throughout the coming year. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Here is what the non-conference schedule looks like for the Sooners.
Nov. 17 at Memphis
Nov. 20 McNeese State
Nov. 24 Incarnate Word
Nov. 29 Wisconsin
Dec. 3 Central Arkansas
Dec. 7 vs. Villanova at Honolulu, Hawai’i
Dec. 12 Oral Roberts
Dec. 19 Creighton
Dec. 22 vs. Diamond Head Classic Honolulu, Hawai’i
Dec. 23 vs. Diamond Head Classic Honolulu, Hawai’i
Dec. 25 vs. Diamond Head Classic Honolulu, Hawai’i
Jan. 30 at LSU
With the Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard receiving the majority of the minutes on the perimeter this season, there weren’t many opportunities for the other guards on Oklahoma’s roster this season. And with all three expected to be back next season, that may once again be the case in 2015-16.
One of the guards impacted was sophomore Frank Booker, who has decided to transfer with the school announcing the news on Wednesday.
“I had a great experience here,” Booker said in the release. “I appreciate Coach Kruger giving me the opportunity to come play basketball at OU. I’ve grown a lot since I’ve been here. It was a hard decision, but it simply came down to the opportunity to return closer to home and to get more playing time.”
Booker averaged 5.0 points in just over 14 minutes of action per game, shooting 32.9 percent from the field and 30.3 percent from beyond the arc. 119 of the Georgia native’s 146 field goal attempts were three-pointers, with Hield, Cousins and Woodard being more capable of attacking teams off the dribble.
Booker will have two seasons of eligibility remaining, and sitting out next season per NCAA transfer rules could be a positive for him in regards to how productive he can be for the remainder of his college career. Do that, and Booker will be able to take advantage of the increased playing time he hopes to find at his next school.
After producing eight points and ten rebounds in 27 minutes of action Saturday in No. 21 Oklahoma’s 68-56 win at TCU, senior forward TaShawn Thomas left the game with just over seven minutes remaining with an eye injury. Thomas, who has become more comfortable in Lon Kruger’s system as the season’s progressed after transferring in from Houston, did not return to the game.
According to Ryan Aber of The Oklahoman, Kruger didn’t know much about the status of his starting forward after the game. That’s an issue, as the Sooners scheduled to host No. 11 Iowa State Monday night in what is a quick turnaround for both teams (the Cyclones also played Saturday).
Thomas exited the game and after being checked out by team trainer Alex Brown, did not return.
“He got hit in the eye,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. “I don’t know anything really more than that at this point.”
While the Sooners did manage to out-rebound TCU by four Saturday, the problem for Oklahoma was that the Horned Frogs managed to grab 21 offensive rebounds and that was with Thomas on the floor for a significant portion of the game. A similar issue against an Iowa State team that’s much better equipped to take advantage of second chances could cost Oklahoma dearly.
In conference games Thomas is averaging 10.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, with Ryan Spangler (7.3 rpg) being the lone Sooner who’s performed better on the glass.