Sooners announce non-conference hoops schedule

OU Coach Lon Kruger watches his team during the Sooners' practice before the NCAA basketball tournament at Chesapeake Energy Arena. (Kyle Phillips / The Transcript)

Oklahoma didn’t mind testing itself on the road last basketball season. This year, the Sooners will largely avoid opponents' arenas until January.

The Sooners announced their non-conference schedule on Monday. The 13 games include eight at Lloyd Noble Center and four at neutral sites. The only true road game is Dec. 3 at Wisconsin.

However, there are four big neutral site games on the slate, including a meeting with Wichita State at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City on Dec. 10.

“Once again, a really challenging non-conference schedule, which I think will be very beneficial for our young club,” OU coach Lon Kruger said in a statement. “We have a lot of guys stepping into new roles next season, so lining up against some great teams in the non-conference will prepare us well for Big 12 play. As always, we look forward to sharing these great opportunities with our fans, who will no doubt help play a huge role for us again next year at the Lloyd Noble Center.”

The season begins on Nov. 13 when Northwestern State comes to Lloyd Noble Center. It will serve as the tuneup for OU’s trip to the 2016 Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Nov. 17-20. The field for that event includes Arizona State, Clemson, Davidson, Missouri, Northern Iowa, Tulane and Xavier.

“The three-game tournaments provide many opportunities for our team to spend time together on the road,” Kruger said. “Everyone is able to get to know each other a little better. Obviously, three tough games in a four-day span help prepare you for conference and postseason play.”

The Puerto Rico tournament comes earlier In the schedule than most holiday tournaments. Typically, the Sooners are on the road for either Thanksgiving weekend or around Christmas.

The Sooners will host Abilene Christian on Nov. 25 and Northern Colorado No. 29. The Wisconsin game is the first Saturday in December.

Oral Roberts comes to Lloyd Noble Center on Dec. 7. The meeting with the Shockers will be the first regular-season game the Sooners have played in the Oklahoma City Thunders’ arena since 2012.

Memphis, which OU faced in last year’s season opener, comes to Lloyd Noble Center on Dec. 17. OU closes the month with a trip to Springfield, Massachusetts, home of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, for a meeting with Auburn on Dec. 21.

As previously announced, the Sooners will host Florida in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. That meeting is set for Jan. 28.

The Big 12 Conference schedule will be announced at a later date.

John Shinn

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jshinn@normantranscript.com

Follow me: @john_shinn

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