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Sooners open Hoops season

Teams: Oklahoma (0-0) vs. ULM (0-0)
Date: Sunday, Nov. 11
Tip: 2:05 p.m. CT
Site: Norman, Okla. (Lloyd Noble Center)
Radio: Sooner Radio Network (KOKC 1520 AM in OKC; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa)
TV: Sooner Sports TV (FS Southwest, FOX College Sports Central)
Webcast: SoonerSports.tv (replay only)
Series: Oklahoma leads 4-0
Last Meeting: OU won 72-61 (11/17/09)

QUICK PREVIEW

Oklahoma begins its 106th season of varsity basketball when its hosts ULM on Sunday at 2 p.m. CT at Lloyd Noble Center. The Sooners, under the direction of second-year head coach Lon Kruger, posted 83-66 and 94-66 exhibition wins over NCAA Division II opponents Washburn and Central Oklahoma, respectively. ULM, which finished 3-26 last season, did not play an exhibition game this year.

ON THE AIR

Sunday's contest will air on the Sooner Radio Network (KOKC 1520 AM in Oklahoma City; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa) with Toby Rowland and Mike Houck calling the action. The game will be televised by Sooner Sports TV (FS Southwest and FOX College Sports Central) with Chad McKee, Billy Tubbs and Jessica Coody announcing. A webcast replay will be offered for free on SoonerSports.tv.

TICKETS

* Tickets are available for $10, $20 and $30 at the OU Athletics Ticket Office and online at SoonerSports.com. Lloyd Noble Center's north and east ticket windows will open at noon on Sunday.

* OU students may purchase a ticket for $10.

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW

* Oklahoma returns 88 percent of its point production from last season, but received 54 percent of its two-game exhibition output this year from four newcomers. Freshman Buddy Hield averaged a team-high 17.5 points per exhibition contest, junior Amath M'Baye averaged 12.5, freshman Je'lon Hornbeak contributed 10.5 and freshman Isaiah Cousins averaged 7.5. The foursome combined to shoot .517 from the field and .591 from 3-point range (13-for-22).

* Oklahoma has won 32 of its last 33 home openers. The only home-opening loss since 1978 was an 84-83 defeat at the hands of Massachusetts to start the 1993-94 season.

* The Sooners enter the 2012-13 season as winners of 34 straight home non-conference games and 92 of the last 94 such contests.

* Senior Steven Pledger is the Big 12's leading returning scorer (16.2 ppg), senior Romero Osby is the Big 12's leading returning rebounder (7.3 rpg), senior Andrew Fitzgerald is the Big 12's leading returner in field goal percentage (.469; minimum of 5.0 makes per game) and senior Sam Grooms led the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.8) and ranked second in assists (6.0 apg).

* OU owns a 4-0 all-time record against ULM, with all games played at Lloyd Noble Center. The Sooners won 72-61 in the most recent meeting in the second game of the 2009-10 season.

PREVIEWING ULM

* The University of Louisiana at Monroe returns one regular starter and just five letterwinners from last year's 3-26 squad (finished 2-14 in Sun Belt Conference play). The Warhawks, who return 46 percent of their scoring and 31 percent of their rebounding from last season, welcome six newcomers to the roster for 2012-13.

* Nine of ULM's losses last year were by single digits (seven defeats were by five or fewer points).

* Junior point guard Marcelis Hansberry and sophomore guard Trent Mackey are the Warhawks' leading statistical returnees. Hansberry made eight starts last year and averaged 5.8 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 18.1 minutes per outing. Over the season's final seven games, he averaged 11.3 points. Mackey started 12 games and also averaged 5.8 points to go along with 1.6 boards in 22.0 minutes a game. He ranked fifth in the Sun Belt by shooting .433 from 3-point range (42-for-97).

* Expected starters Jayon James and Amos Olatayo are junior college transfers who have previous Division I experience. James is a 6-6, 235-pound forward who began his career at Iona College, where he played in 10 games in 2010-11 before sustaining a broken foot. Olatayo is a 6-4, 190-pound guard who started his career at Stephen F. Austin and averaged 4.3 points as a freshman in 2010-11.

* ULM has posted a 10-50 record under head coach Keith Richard, who is in his third year at the school. A 1982 ULM graduate, he is in his 12th year overall and owns a 160-167 career record.

OU-ULM HISTORY

Sunday's game will mark the fifth between OU and ULM, with each of the previous four contests taking place at Lloyd Noble Center. The Sooners won the first three meetings when the Warhawks went by the name of Northeast Louisiana Indians - 101-95 in 1984-85, 104-70 in 1993-94 and 95-68 in the 1996-97 season opener. OU also posted a 72-61 win over ULM in the second game of the 2009-10 season. Current Sooners Steven Pledger and Andrew Fitzgerald were freshmen that year. Pledger scored eight points in 16 minutes in the contest while Fitzgerald was scoreless in eight minutes of action. No current Warhawks were on the ULM roster in 2009-10.

OPENING STATEMENT

The Sooners have won 25 of their last 27 season-opening games, with the only losses during those 27 years coming to Alabama (68-62 in New York City) in 2002-03 and Massachusetts (84-83 in Norman) in 1993-94. OU has won 32 of its last 33 home openers.

BUNCH OF HOMERS

Oklahoma has dominated home non-conference games over the last decade, winning 92 of its last 94 non-league contests inside Lloyd Noble Center going back to Jan. 3, 2000 (good for a .977 winning percentage). Included was a streak of 49 non-conference home victories that was snapped by Villanova on Dec. 6, 2006. The current string stands at 34 games.

UCO EXHIBITION RECAP

* The Sooners used an 18-0 first-half run to distance themselves from Central Oklahoma in an eventual 94-66 win Wednesday at McCasland Field House on OU's campus. It was just the second game played in the building since 1975.

* OU outscored the Bronchos by 19 from the free throw line. The Sooners were 33-for-43 while UCO was 14-for-24.

* Freshman Buddy Hield scored a game-high 19 points in just 22 minutes off the bench. He was 3-for-4 from 3-point range.

* Also scoring in double figures were freshman Je'lon Hornbeak (15 points) and juniors Amath M'Baye (11) and Tyler Neal (10). Neal pulled down a game-high nine rebounds while senior forward Andrew Fitzgerald pulled down eight.

* OU's 94 points were more than it scored in any regular season game last year (high was 92).

WASHBURN EXHIBITION RECAP

* Oklahoma posted an 83-66 exhibition win over NCAA Division II Washburn on Nov. 2 at Lloyd Noble Center, as four newcomers accounted for more than half of OU's scoring. Freshman Buddy Hield finished with a team-high 16 points, junior Amath M'Baye tallied 14 and freshmen Isaiah Cousins and Je'lon Hornbeak netted nine and six, respectively. OU led 40-28 at halftime and was up by as many as 21 in the second half.

* The Sooners outscored the Ichabods by 27 points from 3-point range. OU was 11-for-22 (.500) from deep, while Washburn was 2-for-8 (.250). Hield (3-for-4), Cousins (3-for-4) and Hornbeak (2-for-2) went a combined 8-for-10 from beyond the arc.

* OU registered a modest 40-36 advantage on the boards. M'Baye and Romero Osby led with six rebounds apiece, while Hield and Cameron Clark pulled down five each.

* After going 8-for-16 from the free throw line in the first half, OU went 14-for-16 in the second. It finished 22-for-32 (.688).

MORE ON THE EXHIBITIONS

* The Sooners outshot their two exhibition opponents from the field (.419 to .382), 3-point range (.400 to .231) and free throw line (.733 to .667).

* The freshman guard trio of Buddy Hield (17.5), Je'lon Hornbeak (10.5) and Isaiah Cousins (7.5) combined to average 35.5 points per contest while shooting .650 from 3-point distance (13-for-20). Cousins and Hornbeak started both games while Hield averaged a team-high 23.0 minutes per contest.

* Preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Amath M'Baye averaged 12.5 points, 5.5 boards and 2.0 blocked shots while shooting .538 from the field. He totaled team highs of 11 free throw makes and 13 attempts (.846).

* Oklahoma outscored its two opponents from 3-point range by a total of 36 points. The Sooners were 18-for-45 (.400) from behind the arc while Washburn and UCO combined to go 6-for-26 (.231). Last season, OU was outscored by an average of 8.4 points per game from 3-point distance (opponents made 228 treys to OU's 141).

BIG RETURNS

* Thanks to the loss of just one scholarship senior from last season (forward C.J. Washington averaged 2.0 points and 3.4 rebounds), the Sooners return the bulk of their production in every statistical category for 2012-13. That includes 88 percent of the team's points, 81 percent of its rebounds, 78 percent of its assists, 77 percent of its blocks and 74 percent of its steals. OU also returns 82 percent of its 3-point field goal and 87 percent of its free throw production.

* OU welcomes back its top six scorers from last season, including all five starters. Andrew Fitzgerald, Sam Grooms and Romero Osby each started all 31 contests. Steven Pledger started 30 games while Cameron Clark started 28.

* Pledger is the Big 12's leading returning scorer (16.2 ppg), Osby is the Big 12's leading returning rebounder (7.3 rpg), Fitzgerald is the Big 12's leading returner in field goal percentage (.469; minimum of 5.0 makes per game) and Grooms led the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.8) and ranked second in assists (6.0 apg). Pledger also ranks second among the conference's returning 3-point shooters (shot a team-high .416).

* The trio of Fitzgerald, Osby and Pledger accounted for 64 percent of the Sooners' points in Big 12 play last season (746 of 1,164) and 49 percent of its rebounds (277 of 567).

FRESH FACES

* The Sooners welcome nine newcomers to the roster, with four of them expected to play significant roles in 2012-13.

* Junior forward Amath M'Baye (6-8, 208) sat out last year after transferring from Wyoming and was voted the Preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year by league coaches. He averaged 12.0 points and a team-high 5.7 rebounds as a sophomore for the Cowboys in 2010-11.

* A trio of 6-3 freshman guards will also see plenty of playing time, with two of them expected to start Friday versus Washburn. Isaiah Cousins is a three-star recruit from Mount Vernon, N.Y., who will likely start at point guard. Cousins averaged 15.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game last year to earn New York's Section 1 "Mr. Basketball" honors. Je'lon Hornbeak is also expected to start in the backcourt. Hornbeak was rated as the nation's No. 102 recruit last year by Rivals.com and averaged 12.0 points and 7.5 rebounds for a talent-laden Grace Prep Academy squad out of Arlington, Texas. Buddy Hield is a noted scorer who, like Hornbeak, was a four-star recruit by Rivals. Ranked 86th nationally, Hield averaged 22.7 points and 4.0 rebounds in only 21.0 minutes per game last year for Sunrise Christian Academy outside of Wichita, Kan. From the Bahamas, Hield led OU by averaging 18.0 points over its pair of public intrasquad games the last two weeks.

UP NEXT

The Sooners hit the road for a 7 p.m. CT Friday contest at UT Arlington. The Mavericks went 24-9 last year and went 15-1 in the Southland Conference (they are now in the Western Athletic Conference). The game will be played at the new College Park Center and will be televised by Sooner Sports TV.

SOONER SPORTS TV

Eight of OU's 2012-13 contests will be televised by Sooner Sports TV powered by Fox. Launched in September 2012, the network provides the most comprehensive coverage of the Sooners ever offered. Distributed on a variety of existing FOX Sports outlets including FS Oklahoma, FS Southwest and FOX College Sports, Sooner Sports TV programming blocks reach approximately nine million homes in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.

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