November 23 | 10:30 a.m. | Paradise Island, Bahamas
FRIDAY’S GAME BASICS
After suffering its first loss of the season during the semifinals of Battle 4 Atlantis, Oklahoma (4-1, 0-0 Big 12) looks to bounce back and capture third place in the prestigious tournament with a win over Dayton (4-1, 0-0 Atlantic 10). The Flyers reached the third-place game by defeating Butler in the opening round and falling to No. 4 Virginia on Thursday. Oklahoma hopes to get back on track and avoid a second straight loss. The Sooners have never lost consecutive games in November during the Lon Kruger era and have won at least two games in every early-season tournament they have played in the Kruger era.
ON THE AIR
Friday’s matchup will air on the Sooner Radio Network (KRXO 107.7 FM “The Franchise” in Oklahoma City; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa; Tune In Radio App) with Tom Dore and Kevin Henry announcing. Jon Sciambi and Dan Dakich will call the action on ESPN2. Fans with proper cable verification can also stream the game on the Watch ESPN App.
OU AT BATTLE 4 ATLANTIS
• The Sooners are making their second appearance in Battle 4 Atlantis, previously finishing in second place in 2014. Oklahoma claimed wins over UCLA and Butler in the opening two rounds before falling to Wisconsin in the title game.
• With Wednesday’s win over Florida and Thursday’s loss to Wisconsin, Oklahoma is now 3-2 all-time in Battle 4 Atlantis. The Sooners’ only two losses in the event both came to Wisconsin (2014 championship game and 2018 semifinals).
• Oklahoma’s previous trip to the Bahamas was especially meaningful for 2016 National Player of the Year and Freeport, Bahamas native Buddy Hield. A junior at the time, Hield was able to play in his home country with his college team.
• OU is 17-7 during in-season tournament games under Lon Kruger, having won at least two games in all seven previous in-season tournaments in the Kruger era.
Jamuni McNeace has blocked nine shots in the first two games of Battle 4 Atlantis.
RECAPPING OU’S SEMIFINALS LOSS
• Oklahoma (4-1, 0-0 Big 12) suffered its first loss of the season on Thursday, falling to No. 25 Wisconsin (5-0, 0-0 Big Ten), 78-58, on Paradise Island, Bahamas. The Battle 4 Atlantis semifinals matchup was Oklahoma’s first game against a ranked opponent this season. The Sooners are now 6-10 against ranked non-conference foes during the Kruger era.
• Oklahoma’s scoring efforts were led by guard Aaron Calixte and Christian James, who combined to produce 28 points on 12-of-22 shooting. James sunk 4-of-8 3-point shots to score a team-high 18 points. The senior has totaled at least 15 points in all five games this season.
• Senior center Jamuni McNeace put together five points, six boards and five blocks. McNeace, who swatted four shots in Wednesday’s game, has totaled nine blocks during his time in Atlantis. The past pair of games mark the first time McNeace has recorded at least four blocks in consecutive games.
• The Sooners shot 24-of-51 (.471) from the field, but couldn’t keep up with the Badgers’ 3-point shooting. Wisconsin went 14-of-22 (.636) from deep, including 8-of-9 (.899) during the second half.
• Oklahoma trailed by only three points at halftime, but the Badgers went on an early 12-3 run to begin separating themselves. The Sooners were never able to get back within striking distance.
SERIES HISTORY: DAYTON
• The Sooners and Flyers have met four times previously with Oklahoma owning a 3-1 record all-time in the series. Oklahoma and Dayton most recently faced off in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. The Sooners advanced to the Sweet 16 by defeating the Flyers, 72-66, in Columbus, Ohio.
• Friday will be just the second time the two teams have met in the regular season. The schools have squared off once in the postseason NIT (1982) and twice in the NCAA Tournament (1984 and 2015). The lone regular-season meeting between the programs took place in Honolulu, Hawaii, when the Sooners rolled Dayton 151-99 – scoring the sixth-most points in OU history.
• The Flyers are in their second season under head coach Anthony Grant. The Sooners are 1-0 all time against Grant, previously defeating a Grant-coached Alabama squad, 82-73 to open the 2014-15 season.
• Oklahoma is 16-8 all-time against current members of the Atlantic 10 and 3-1 during the Kruger era.
• Last season’s Sooner squad was one of the youngest teams in both the Big 12 and the country. With nine freshmen and sophomores and only one senior, Oklahoma was the second least-experienced team in the conference, according to KenPom.com. The analytics website’s formula, based on age and collegiate playing experience, ranked the Sooners 304 out of 351 Division I teams in experience. It will be a different story for Oklahoma this season, as its roster now features eight seniors or graduate students and only one scholarship freshman. Using the same KenPom experience metric, Oklahoma is No. 23 in experience this season and No. 1 among teams from major conferences.
• Through the combination of time and targeting experienced transfers in recruiting, the Sooners now boast the most seniors and graduates of any team in the Big 12. With seven more seniors/graduates than 2017-18, Oklahoma owns the largest-known increase of seniors in NCAA Division I this season. The Sooners’ average age on opening night in 2017 was 19.9. On the day of OU’s 2018 season opener (Nov. 9), the Oklahoma roster was an average age of 21.1 and the oldest in the Big 12.
• Christian James, Rashard Odomes and Jamuni McNeace form the core group of OU seniors, as all three have spent at least three years in the Sooners’ program. The trio combines for 278 games of collegiate experience and 113 starts. Both James and Odomes have been consistent members of OU’s starting lineup over the past two seasons, while McNeace continued to see his role expanded as the 2017-18 season progressed. James’ 11.9 points per game last season are the most among returning players while McNeace led Sooner returners in rebounds (5.4) and blocked shots (1.4). With a 7-foot-4 wingspan and one of the most athletic builds on the team, McNeace is gearing towards having a breakout senior season as the Sooners’ starting center.
• Oklahoma also installed significant experience and leadership into its roster through the addition of two graduate transfer guards: Aaron Calixte and Miles Reynolds. An experienced point guard from the University of Maine, Calixte brings career averages of 11.6 points and 3.0 assists. With 1,125 career points to his name, Calixte averaged 16.9 points per game and shot 61-of-158 (.386) from 3-point range in 2017-18. Calixte faces the challenge of filling OU’s point guard role, left open by Trae Young’s top-five selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, but will rely on his own experience at the position along with veteran players surrounding him.
• Reynolds joins the Sooners after two seasons at Pacific, where he scored 13.3 points a game last season. The guard has experience at both the point guard position and playing off the ball and aims to lend a veteran voice to the court and locker room. In the team’s annual player poll, Reynolds’ teammates voted him the best vocal leader and one of OU’s best leaders by example.
UP NEXT: NORTH TEXAS
• Next up, Oklahoma is back at home to face North Texas (7-0, 0-0 CUSA) in the Sooners’ lone game at Lloyd Noble Center in a 29-day stretch. The Sooners and Mean Green will square off at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 27 on Fox Sports Oklahoma.
• OU is 5-1 all-time against the Mean Green and has won the last five meetings. The Sooners won a meeting with the Mean Green last season, 82-72, in Norman. OU is 2-0 against UNT during the Kruger era.
• UNT’s lone win in the series came in 1966.
• Oklahoma is 39-6 all-time against current members of Conference USA and is 5-1 against CUSA teams during the Kruger era. OU faced and defeated UTSA earlier this month.
•OU Athletics is offering a special Black Friday deal on the North Texas game, along with other upcoming games. Get in on the deals HERE.