Former Sooner guard Terry Evans has enjoyed success since taking the reigns of the basketball program at the University of Central Oklahoma. He has a 208-90 record with the Bronchos and has produced six 20-plus win seasons. Evans is coming home, to Norman, tonight to bring his team to take on the team he once starred for.
While its the first exhibition for UCO, it is the second and final tuneup for Oklahoma. The Sooners beat Washburn 83-66 last Friday night, in their exhibition opener, and are looking to show consistency tonight. The Sooners were led by newcomers Buddy Hield and Amath M'Baye, who scored 16 and 14 points each. In addition, Isaiah Cousins scored nine and Je'lon Hornbeak put in six. All three of the new guards scored from outside, which is huge for a team that has pretty much solely relied on Steven Pledger to make the three-point shot.
Evans is going to have his work cut out for him when it comes to matching up against Oklahoma's talent.
"They're good, OU is much better this year," Evans told me in an interview last week. "Anytime you return basically an entire team and then you add four or five key guys, that's just going to make you better. We'll have our hands full, trying to match up with those inside guys. Osby, Fitzgerald, M'Baye, those guys can play and shoot it. They you've got Grooms, who is tough as nails who can really pass it and defend. I got a peek at their new guys at the inner-squad scrimmage and those guys can play too. We watched DJ (Bennett) at the national tournament for junior college and we know he can play as well. They've got a really good team this year."
Like Lon Kruger's squad, Evans has a lot of new starters he's relying on this season as well. Forward Josh Davis was a part-time starter last season who averaged 5.8 points and 3.6 rebounds per game and forward Spencer Smith averaged 8.7 points and 3.1 boards last season. Beyond those two, UCO is relying five redshirts, a handful of transfers and five freshmen. Needless to say, they've got some chemistry to develop.
Oklahoma's chemistry came together quite nicely as new talent gelled with returning starters in a game where the score could have been much worse than it was. I wouldn't expect tonight to be any different, and if anything it should be worse. Washburn was a high ranking Division II team with a ton of experience. With all due respect to Terry Evans, UCO is just a Division II team.
The catch for Oklahoma is the new guys showing that they can be consistent to what they did last week. That could be the biggest test for the Sooners tonight.