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Oklahoma Basketball: Sooners top UTRGV, 91-76

Christian James led OU with a career-high 29 points.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Oklahoma Sooners vs Rhode Island Rams Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Christian James is off to a great start in his senior season, as his career-high 29 points led the Oklahoma Sooners to a 91-76 win over UTRGV.

James’ 29 came on a 9-17 shooting performance in which he found ways to score from every area of the floor. As a team, the Sooners shot 50 percent from the field and were 11-23 from three-point range. Grad transfer Aaron Calixte accounted for three of those deep buckets (all in the first half) and ended up for 15 points on the night.

Three Things:

  1. James steps up - If Oklahoma is going to push for at least a spot on the bubble this season, James is going to need to be the assertive scorer that OU fans were hoping to see after Buddy Hield and Isaiah Cousins exhausted their eligibility. He’s shown flashes of that over the past three seasons, but he needs to consistently be that dude as a senior. So far, so good.
  1. Two quality point guards - Aaron Calixte made a bit of a splash with his coring tonight, but his freshman backup, Jamal Bieniemy, is going to be a great guard in this conference. His feel for the game is apparent ever time he sees the court, and he’s exceptionally heady for a guy who is so young. He didn’t light up the scoreboard (1 point, 0-2 from the field) but did register four assists without turning it over. What’s great about this situation is that Calixte’s arrival allows Bieniemy to progress at a healthy pace.
  2. A more physical Manek - The sophomore is bigger than he was a year ago, and he’s bringing the physicality to match it. Manek frequently battled down low for rebounds an offensive position, often with positive results. The Harrah native ended the contest with 12 points, 12 rebounds and a pair of blocks.

Up Next

Monday’s game at UTSA features another OU/Kruger connection, as former assistant Steve Henson is in his third season coaching the Roadrunners. That one will tip off at 7 p.m. CT on CBS Sports Network.