Sooners open season against visiting Lions

Nov 16, 2014 - 4:32 PM Norman, OK ( - The 19th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners will begin their 2014-15 campaign at home on Sunday afternoon, as they welcome the Southeastern Louisiana Lions to the Lloyd Noble Center.

Southeastern Louisiana played another Sooner State powerhouse in its opener on Friday, falling to Oklahoma State in Stillwater, 83-55, in the first game of coach Jay Ladner's tenure. The Lions have lost six of their last seven dating back to last season.

Oklahoma has improved in every season since Lon Kruger was hired prior to the 2011-12 campaign, culminating in a 23-10 showing last season, which included a second-place finish in the Big 12 Conference (12-6). The Sooners ended the campaign on a sour note however, by losing in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals to Baylor (78-73) and getting upset by North Dakota State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament (80-75 in OT).

The Sooners have a 1-0 lead in the all-time series with Southeastern Louisiana.

Southeastern Louisiana was incredibly competitive in the first half of its opener, as it went into intermission trailing by just two after holding Oklahoma State to only 39.3 percent field goal shooting in the opening 20 minutes, but the wheels came off after halftime en route to a 28-point loss. The Lions shot only 31.7 percent from the field on the night and finished with more turnovers (21) than field goals (19). Zay Jackson finished with 16 points but hurt his team more than he helped, shooting a lowly 6-of-24 from the floor while committing eight turnovers. DeVonte Upson tallied a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The Sooners will enjoy a small turnover from last season's successful squad, as they welcome back four starters and nearly 68 percent of their scoring output. Buddy Hield (16.5 ppg) does the majority of his damage from 3-point territory, draining 90 long-range buckets at a 38.6 percent clip. After averaging only 2.5 ppg as a freshman in 2012-13, Isaiah Cousins made big improvements last season with 11.0 ppg and 4.2 rpg. Ryan Sprangler (9.6 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 0.9 bpg) is a force in the frontcourt, and Jordan Woodard (10.3 ppg) does a good job getting his playmakers involved, as he dished out 4.6 apg as a freshman. TaShawn Thomas, a transfer from Houston who posted gaudy numbers last season (15.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.7 bpg), won't play on Sunday but could be a difference maker later in the season, as the university is still awaiting the NCAA's ruling on his eligibility for 2014-15.

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