The Oklahoma Sooners opened the 2015-16 season Friday night at Lloyd Noble Center in an exhibition game against Washburn.
Here are three major points from the 112-62 victory:
1. Lattin makes his appearance in the starting lineup
Like the rest of the Sooners, Khadeem Lattin struggled early on against Washburn. Oklahoma led by single digits for much of the first half before pulling away late and cruising in the second half.
On the first defensive possession of the game, Lattin recorded a block and was directly involved within the offense in the second half – something that didn’t happen last year. He hit back-to-back baskets before the first media timeout.
“I always like the way he plays,” Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler said. “He’s an energetic guy. . . . You’ll see him grow as the year goes on, just like we’ve seen him all summer and this last month of practice. As long as he keeps his energy up and keeps rebounding and taking whatever comes to him, he’ll be good.”
Lattin finished with six points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
“If Khadeem takes it and separates, then we’ll go with it,” Kruger said. “The players know we really don’t care who starts. Whomever gets results as a group is going to be in there. I could see it going either way.”
2. The new rules will be an adjustment
The NCAA wanted to emphasize freedom of movement when it made changes to the way fouls are called. It showed up on Friday night.
Washburn and Oklahoma combined for 51 total fouls – with the Ichabods being whistled 28 times. Oklahoma averaged 16.2 fouls per game last season but had 23 Friday.
Still, Kruger is a fan of the new rules.
“Freedom of movement is huge for the success of our game, for the entertainment value,” he said. “The grabbing and holding isn’t healthy for our game. Calling it the way we want to call it this year is good for everyone, good for the game. It benefits our guys because we like putting the ball on the floor and attacking and keeping the pressure on.”
The first taste of a 30-second shot clock was uneventful. Kruger said he doesn’t think it will make much of a difference, and it was hardly noticed Friday.
3. Depth will be better this season
Buddy Hield said that a lack of production off the bench last season was what kept the Sooners from getting “over the hump.” Based on Friday’s victory, this season should be a little different at the very least.
In last year’s first scrimmage against Washburn, the starting five accounted for 71 percent of the scoring. This year, they accounted for less than 50 percent while playing 15 combined fewer minutes.
McNeace (6 points 8 rebounds), Rashard Odomes (12 points), Buford (4 points, 3 rebounds) and Christian James, who hit back-to-back 3-pointers without a shoe on and finished with 14 points, all had stellar debuts.
“I thought they were awfully comfortable,” Kruger said. “. . . I thought they stepped in and let the game come to them and made good plays and did a lot of good things. I thought they looked comfortable.”