Previewing Oklahoma's Season Opener Against Louisiana-Monroe

Ed Zurga

Oklahoma is coming into this season with determination, motivated to prove their critics wrong. The freshmen have shined in the exhibition matches and will be looking to keep the momentum. ULM on the other hand is starting from scratch literally and will simply settle to compete.

Lon Kruger has Norman buzzing about his basketball squad. The Oklahoma Sooners are coming off a very unimpressive 15-16 record from last season. However, they are returning all five starters from the previous year while adding depth at every position on the floor. Although this team was picked to finish 7th in the Big XII, expectations are still riding high as many fans believe that to be a low spot. However, the Big XII remains a tough conference and will provide a different monster than we will see in the non-conference games.

Location: Lloyd Noble Center

Tip: Novmber 11th, 2:05 PM

TV: SoonerSportsTV
Fox Southwest
Fox College Sports Central

Radio: Sooner Radio Network

Web: GameTracker

The puzzle got a bit more complicated for Oklahoma who inherited a sudden wealth of height as well as depth. Sam Grooms provided ball security for the Sooners while Andrew Fitzgerald and Romero Osby combined for a steady 25 points and 12 rebounds per game last season. In a bit of a shake up, Grooms as well as Fitzgerald (Cam Clark has been a routine starter as well) will be coming off the bench as Amath M'Baye, Isaiah Cousins, and Je'lon Hornbeak have entered the starting five.

This is for good reason too. One thing the Sooners will continue to do is spread the floor with shooters. Buddy Hield, a standout freshman combined with M'Baye, Cousins, and Hornbeak have shot over 50% from beyond the arc in their two exhibition matches, something Oklahoma was severely lacking even though last season's squad consistently scored in the 60's.

On the flip side of the coin sit the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. When I say "flip side of the coin" I truly mean that. Everything that is going right for Oklahoma at this point is going wrong for ULM.

There were not a ton of positives for Head Coach Keith Richard to work with here. Coming off a 3-26 record, the Warhawks have lost all but a single starter and a total of five letterwinners from last season. Sanctions have hurt this team significantly as recruiting takes a hit due to the ineligibility to compete for championships of any kind.

The bright side is that ULM returns Charles Winbone, a double digit scorer for the Warhawks. Behind him will be Marcelis Hansberry (8) and Trent Mackey (12) who started a combined 20 games. However, no one is quite sure what to expect when they take to the hardwood. This is a team that did not compete in any sort of exhibition matches. The first time on the floor for ULM could be an ugly one as Coach Richard begins to piece together his rotation.

The offensive capabilites are there for this squad while picking up a couple of JUCO transfers. Last season they averaged in the 60's but defense really bit them. It was not uncommon to see a 70+ score posted on the club.

In an attempt to throw something out there for a bit of mockery or celebration, I have decided to throw out a quick score prediction to sum up this match-up. Oklahoma offensively will be difficult to handle while there will be a clear talent differential. I'm being a homer and taking the Sooners in this bout 86-62 with the player of the game being Romero Osby.

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