Full-court press: George Mason

Sooners take on Patriots in final non-conference matchup

SoonersIllustrated.com will present three things to watch before every men’s basketball game during the 2014-15 season.

George Mason (5-6) at No. 18 Oklahoma (8-3)

When: 4:02 p.m. CST

TV/Radio: FS Southwest/107.7 FM(OKC); 1430 AM (Tulsa); Sirius 93; XM 193

Finishing 2014 the right way

This is the last chance for Oklahoma to do whatever it might need before Big 12 Conference play tips off. The are no more second chances for the Sooners.

“Coaches were saying that we had to play good before going to break because there's normally a lot of upsets so we didn't want that upset to be us so we were ready for this game and we were ready to take on the challenge,” guard Isaiah Cousins said.

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger made it a little simpler. He said that this is the first of 19 conference games. The Sooners have 18 legitimate league games on the schedule.

Closing out 2014 properly could go a long way to starting 2015 the way Oklahoma wants. The Sooners have won four of their past five with the only loss coming against ranked Washington at a neutral site, when point guard Jordan Woodard’s game-winning shot missed as time ran out after Oklahoma had slumped to an early double-digit deficit.

“It’s just continued progress,” Kruger said. “Our starting point continues to get better defensively. … We just have to keep making progress.”

The one thing Kruger wants to see most is a continued intensity on the defensive end.

Booker finally back?

After missing two straight games with a back injury, it’s likely that Sooners guard Frank Booker will make his return against George Mason, which has won three straight games after being swept out of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

Booker had been struggling through a bit of an up-and-down season as Oklahoma’s long-range threat off the bench. His recent hiatus might have provided a reason.

“It’s been bothering Frank for a while,” Kruger said of the back injury. “This extended recovery time, rehab time hopefully will help.”

Kruger was hopeful that keeping Booker out for a longer period would help to keep the injury from recurring.

Feeling better within the offense

There was a bit of a concern as to where offense would come from before the season started. Buddy Hield, who leads the team with 15.5 points per game and is sixth in the conference, was going to be the go-to weapon, but behind Hield, there were some questions.

With six different leading scorers in the past six games, those questions have been answered.

“We’re moving the ball better offensively,” Kruger said. “We’re getting inside and shooting it better.”

Offense is coming from everywhere for Oklahoma, which is no longer reliant on the outside shot. The Sooners have posted a 26.4-point margin of victory in its five home games this season.

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