GAME NOTES: In a non-conference matchup of 1-0 squads, the Oklahoma Sooners hit the road for the first time this season to face off with the Texas- Arlington Mavericks at the College Park Center.
Oklahoma soared by ULM in its first game of the season, hanging up an 85-51 victory in Norman. Now the Sooners are taking the show on the road, for the earliest true road test in a season since 2004. Oklahoma is a young team with a great deal of hype surrounding newcomers Amath M'Baye and Isiah Cousins. The Sooners will be involved in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando next weekend beginning with a matchup against UTEP on Thanksgiving Day.
It was not so easy for Texas-Arlington in its season opener, but the Mavericks' ledger still stands at 1-0 after the Mavericks outlasted Cal State Bakersfield 62-60. This game will mark the first home game of the season for Texas-Arlinton and only the fifth game played at the College Park Center. The Mavericks played the last four games of the season there last year after the arena opened in February. The Mavericks will be on the road in their next four games beginning against Samford next Sunday.
If past history is any indication, UTA is in trouble. In five previous meetings, Oklahoma has come out on top each time with four of the victories by at least 18 points.
With the outcome largely in hand early on Oklahoma was able to play 12 players, all of which scored, in its win over ULM. In the contest, the Sooners shot at a 47.1 percent clip and held a dominating 49-30 edge on the boards.
The much anticipated debut of M'Baye went about as well as it cold have. M'Baye scored 12 points and came a rebound shy of a double-double in just 22 minutes of playing time. Cousins' first start was less impressive, with the freshman guard netting just two points in 20 minutes. Increased minutes should get Cousins better acclimated and give him more opportunities to contribute going forward. Senior guard Steven Pledger provided a steady hand out of the backcourt, scoring 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc. Pledger is the team's leading returning scorer. Je'lon Hornbeak also played well, dishing out five assists to go with 10 points. To make room for M'Baye, former starter Andrew Fitzgerald (12.1 ppg last season) came off the bench to dump in 12 points, while Romero Osby (12.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg in 2011) got the start and had nine points and seven rebounds.
UTA blanketed CS Bakersfield with stingy defense in its season opening win. The Mavericks held the Roadrunners to just 26.6 percent shooting in the contest including a 5-of-28 effort from beyond the arc. The defensive intensity helped overshadow a tough offensive day for the Mavericks, who shot 37.3 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 22 times.
The frontcourt was especially potent for the Mavericks in the win. Brandon Edwards (10 points 10 rebounds) and Jordan Reves (13 points, 14 rebounds) each turned in double-doubles, while Edwards also swatted four shots. Reves started in all 33 games last season (9.1 ppg, 7.8 rpg), while Edwards was used primarily as a reserve. In the backcourt it was Jamel Outler who was most productive, scoring 15 points. The sophomore guard sat out last season after transferring from Texas Tech. Returning starter Shaquille White-Miller got his teammates involved while running the point (six assists) but could not do so for himself with zero points on 0-of-7 shooting. The 62 points was a bit low for UTA which was accustomed to large offensive outputs last season, ranking 20th nationally in points per game (76.9).
While Oklahoma is relying on a number of young and inexperienced players to contribute early this season, it will go through its fair share of growing pains. However, even on the road, the Sooners will be too much for UTA to handle.
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