A bevy of new faces took the court for the first time under head coach Lon Kruger, propelling the Oklahoma Sooners past Southestern Oklahoma State.
The Sooners defeated Southeastern 89-76 in Oklahoma’s lone preseason exhibition game of the 2019 season.
“It was great to play against someone other than ourselves,” Kruger said after the game.
“The guys did a good job of making some plays for each other and we had some good stretches in the ballgame,” he said.
Returning starters Jamal Bieniemy, Kristian Doolittle and Brady Manek are joined this season by seven freshmen, as well as Wichita State transfer Austin Reaves.
Manek picked up where he left off last season, leading the Sooners in scoring with 23 points, also adding 8 rebounds and 2 assists in 27 minutes of action.
De’Vion Harmon, rated a four-star prospect out of high school, made his long awaited debut in a Sooner uniform. After a slow start in the first half, Harmon finished strong, scoring 22 points while tallying 3 assists and 2 steals.
“It’s been a long process, but I’m happy to wear the crimson and cream,” Harmon said.
Harmon looked calm and did a good job of running the offense throughout the game, creating open looks for his teammates and pressing the issue at the rim.
“De’Vion was good throughout,” Kruger said. “I thought his decisions were outstanding start to finish.”
Oklahoma’s 2019 recruiting class was more than just Harmon, as the top 20 ranked class brought seven new faces to Norman, OK.
Jalen Hill and Victor Iwuakor look to factor in the rotation as freshmen, scoring 11 and 10 points respectively.
“All the new guys had flashes of good things,” Kruger said. “I thought Jalen Hill was the most consistent throughout.”
Both Hill and Iwuakor flashed versatility, getting it done from behind the three-point arc and at the rim.
Reaves will look to spread the floor for the Sooners after sitting out last season. A career 46 percent three-point shooter for Wichita State, Reaves only shot 1-for-4 from deep.
“It’s been a while so it feels really good to be back on the court,” Reaves said.
The Wichita State transfer had a less than ideal start to his Sooner career, missing everything on his first three point attempt. Reaves said he was unfazed by the early miss, and was settled into the game from the jump.
Honestly before that I was settled in, I just shot it and I air-balled it,” Reaves said. “I mean it is what it is.”
Despite hitting only one three, Reaves contributed elsewhere, converting all three of his free throws and elevating to slam a dunk home on his way to scoring 10 points for the Sooners.
With just a week until the regular season tips off, the Sooners have a lot they will still have to improve on.
The help-side defense was a problem at times against Southeastern, allowing a few easy back door scores to keep Southeastern in the game early.
“We got a lot of things we have to work on, but I think that’s the beauty of it,” Harmon said. “You play a game, watch film, you fix it and you get ready for the next game.”
“With so many new guys, you expect there to be a lot of things to grow from,” Kruger said.
“We’ll learn a lot from it,”
The Sooners officially open the 2019 season at 7 p.m. on Nov. 5 from the Lloyd Noble Center.