NORMAN – Oklahoma men’s basketball faced UT Arlington in a charity scrimmage at Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday to raise money for the United Way’s Harvey Recovery Fund. UTA won the scrimmage, 99-84.
The Sooners and Mavericks were granted a waiver by the NCAA to play the additional preseason scrimmage to raise money for Hurricane Harvey relief. Fans still have the opportunity to contribute to the team’s fundraising efforts by texting BOOMER to 51555.
In addition to raising support for charity, the Sooners were able to use their first exhibition of the year to continue making progress in their preseason preparation. The team’s biggest takeaway was playing defense with a greater sense of urgency, as the Mavericks shot 34-of-72 (.472) from the floor and 14-of-29 (.483) from 3-point range.
“We’ve got to do more with more conviction,” said Kruger. “We’ve got to be tougher. We’ve got to be grittier. Always, talking more helps a lot. But, just competing for that result to keep that ball out of the net. We’ve got to understand just how much more it takes to do that.”
Offensively, the Sooners were paced by junior guard Christian James, who came off the bench to score 28 points on 8-of-11 shooting in 22 minutes. The scrimmage performance was a continuation of a strong offensive showing from James during OU’s August foreign tour to Australia and New Zealand, where he averaged 16.3 points and made 12-of-13 3-pointers.
“I would say it’s all about confidence with me,” said James. “I’m trying to get my teammates going and make the right plays. We didn’t get stops defensively so it was kind of tough today. We have a lot of work to do.”
The Sooners also saw encouraging performances from a pair of newcomers in freshman guard Trae Young and freshman forward Brady Manek. Young put together 18 points and nine assists while Manek totaled 13 points and nine rebounds.
Coming off a 27-win year and a Sun Belt regular-season title, UTA was fueled by its starting lineup of five seniors. Sun Belt Player of the Year Kevin Hervey led the Mavericks with 27 points and 13 rebounds. The veteran group, coached by Scott Cross, provided the Sooners with a veteran opponent to help prepare them for the regular season.
“It is a good benefit," said Young. "This is the type of team you want to do an exhibition game with...It is a good team that we played today. It was good challenge for us. We are going to go back and study film and work on the things that we did not do today.”
Oklahoma returns to the practice floor on Monday, leading up to its regular-season opener on Nov. 12 against Omaha. The Sooners’ final preseason contest will be Nov. 8 when they host East Central at Lloyd Noble Center. All tickets for the ECU game are just $5 and the team will sign autographs at the conclusion of the game.