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Sooners Host Washburn Tonight In Exhibition Opener

Its just an exhibition game for the Sooners but it may tell a whole lot about where fan expectations should be this year.

Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE

When it comes to Division II basketball, you'll be hard pressed to find a program better than Washburn. The Ichabods were 25-8 last season and won MIAA conference tournament. They return all five starters this season and the majority of their bench.

Senior guard Will McNeill was an All-American last season, after averaging 20.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. In Washburn's exhibition opener, against Kansas State, on Tuesday night he scored a team-high 12 points and was the game's leading rebounder with 10.

Fellow guard Martin Mitchell averaged 10.2 points per game last season but was held to seven points against Kansas State. Senior forward Joseph Smith was the only other Washburn player to score in double-figures against the Wildcats. He scored 10 and pulled down five rebounds.

Washburn head coach Bob Chipman was a college teammate of Lon Kruger's at Kansas State.

For Oklahoma, this game is all about introducing new faces. Junior forward Amath M'Baye, along freshmen guards Isaiah Cousins and Je'lon Hornbeak are all new insertions into the starting lineup. In his second season as Oklahoma's head coach, Lon Kruger has a deeper and more talented squad than in his first season.

Oklahoma's Projected Starting Lineup

G Isaiah Cousins

G Je'lon Hornbeak

G Steven Pledger

F Romero Osby

F Amath M'Baye

The insertion of three new faces into the starting lineup means that Oklahoma will have experienced guys like Sam Grooms and Andrew Fitzgerald coming off the bench. Another player coming off the bench will be heralded freshman Buddy Hield who has been a star in practices.

Of the two exhibition games this season, this one will be the most telling. Based on how the new faces perform, we should have a clear understanding as to where we should set our expectations for the season. Tipoff is at 7:05 and fans can still purchase tickets for as little as $5.00.