NORMAN — Terry Evans is no stranger to Oklahoma basketball. The Central Oklahoma coach played at OU from 1989-93 and remains the program’s all-time assist leader and a leader in 3-pointers made.
When the opportunity came to play an exhibition game against his alma mater, he didn’t care when or where.
“I guess you should be careful what you ask for sometimes,” Evans said.
The Sooners rolling to a 94-66 victory over the Bronchos wasn’t a surprise. Getting help from an energized crowd of 2,880 at McCasland Field House is what made OU’s final tune-up before the regular season begins seem energized.
“The atmosphere was different,” said OU forward Amath M’Baye, who finished with 11 points, five rebounds and four blocks. “The baskets were different. You had to get used to it in warm-ups. I think all the guys did pretty good with it.”
The difference was an enthusiastic crowd. OU probably would have drawn the same amount of fans if it had played at Lloyd Noble Center. But having less than 3,000 fans in a 12,000-seat arena makes everything seem dank.
Putting that same amount in McCasland Field House brings instant energy.
It took a while, but the Sooners fed off that. As he did in last Saturday’s exhibition opener against Washburn, OU coach Lon Kruger basically played two five-man units.
M’Baye, forward Romero Osby and guards Steven Pledger, Je’lon Hornbeak and Isaiah Cousins started. Guards Sam Grooms, Buddy Hield, Cameron Clark and forwards Andrew Fitzgerald and Tyler Neal came off the bench.
OU was lethargic in the opening minutes, but it was that bench crew that got things going.
Hield, who scored a game-high 19 points, wasted little time making an impact. In his first 20 seconds on the floor, Hield sank a 3-pointer and forced UCO’s Nic Combs into a turnover.