OU-Idaho State Hoops Preview

NORMAN, Okla. — SI breaks down the Lon Kruger Era opener Friday night against the Bengals.


The Lon Kruger Era officially gets under way tonight when the Sooners play host to the Idaho State Bengals at Lloyd Noble Center. This starts the 105th season of Sooner men's basketball and a fresh beginning coming off the Jeff Capel Era.. OU has won its two exhibition games, 85-51 and 85-59 victories over Northeastern State and Washburn, respectively, and is now prepared for regular season action.

Sooner Notes:

--Guard Steven Pledger will miss the season opener due to a one-game suspension because of playing in a pro-am game over the summer. He should be reinstated next week.

--The Sooners have won 24 of their last 26 season-opening contests. The only two setbacks during that span came to Alabama (68-62 in New York City) back in 2002-03 and Massachusetts (84-83 in Norman) back in the 1993-94 season.

--OU has also dominated in non-conference play at home, winning 85 of the last 87 of those games. Villanova snapped a 49-game home non-conference streak back in 2006.

--Forward Andrew Fitzgerald is the Sooners' returning leading scorer, with his 12.6 points per game last year.

Looking at the Bengals:

--They are located in Pocatello, Idaho and play in the Big Sky Conference, which also features teams like Montana, Northern Colorado and others.

--The Bengals finished 9-20 last season and tied for eighth in league play with a 4-2 mark.

--Senior guard Kenny McGowen, who is from McKinney, Texas, is the team's leading scorer at 9.3 points per game last year.

--They won their only exhibition game, an 86-69 triumph over Rocky Mountain College, shooting 44.8 percent from the field in that contest.

--Head coach Joe O'Brien is in his sixth year as head coach for the Bengals with a 54-97 overall record.

Projected Starters:


F Andrew Fitzgerald (6-8, 247, Jr., 12.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg)

F Romero Osby (6-8, 232, Jr., Transfer)

G Sam Grooms (6-1, 203, Jr., Juco)

G Carl Blair (6-2, 205, Jr., 7.5 ppg, 4.7 apg)

G Cameron Clark (6-6, 198, So., 9.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg)

Idaho State:

C Jakub Kusmieruk (7-4, 265, Jr.)

F Abner Moreira (6-9, 225, Sr.)

G Chase Grabau (6-5, 180, Sr.)

G Melvin Morgan (5-11, 168, Jr.)

G Kenny McGowen (6-0, 175, Sr.)

Sooners Illustrated's Take:

The Sooners get the Lon Kruger Era started off on the right note. They shouldn't have much of a problem with an Idaho State team that has, however, played six of its last seven conference openers against a BCS school. Early in the second half, OU should already be coasting to victory and getting to experiment some more if it does things right.

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