3 takeaways from OU’s win against UT-Rio Grande Valley
Oklahoma opened its season with a 91-76 win at UT-Rio Grande Valley on Friday night in Edinburg, Texas.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Christian James has career night
The senior guard poured in a career-high 28 points on 9 of 17 shooting with three rebounds and two steals.
James was 4 of 10 from 3-point range. It was the most impressive individual shooting display on a night when the Sooners were dialed in. OU was 11 of 23 (48 percent) from behind the arc.
James has primarily been a spot-up shooter in his Sooner career, but he looked comfortable Friday night putting the ball on the floor. The offense ran through him.
Calixte impresses in debut
OU's point guard situation couldn't be more different than last year's. Trae Young, a freshman phenom, has been replaced by Aaron Calixte, a graduate transfer from Maine.
So far so good for the Sooners. Calixte not only facilitated the offense — already flashing a two-man game with center Jamuni McNeace — but he showed off a smooth 3-point stroke.
Calixte was a 39 percent 3-point shooter at Maine, and he was 3 of 4 from deep in his OU debut. He might not be as tall as his 5-foot11 listing, but his ball handling was good enough to navigate an overmatched UT-Rio Grande Valley defense.
Calixte has a nifty hesitation step off the dribble that he uses to set up slower defenders.
The Sooners have an interesting dynamic at point guard with the smooth-playing Calixte and the wiry 6-foot-4 freshman Jamal Bieniemy backing him up.
Lon Kruger's substitution patterns mirrored an exhibition game early on. Kruger played 11 men by the 12-minute mark in the first half. The mass substitutions didn't continue in the second half.
OU went with a starting lineup of Calixte, James, Kristian Dootlittle, Brady Manek and McNeace. James had a team-high 36 minutes followed by Manek with 30.
Bieniemy, junior college transfer center Kur Kuath and senior guard Rashard Odomes were the first three men off the bench. Then came grad transfer guard Miles Reynolds, junior forward Matt Freeman and sophomore center Hannes Polla.
Though it's just a onegame sample, it's unclear who will be OU's primary scorer off the bench. OU's bench finished with 19 points, but scored just two buckets in the first half.
Expect Kruger to toy with his rotation throughout non-conference play.