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November 21, 2013

Sooners excited for competition waiting in New York

NORMAN — Just mentioning the two words brought a broad smile to Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins’ face. The Sooners are going to “New York” — the sophomore guard’s home — for the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

The White Plains, N.Y., native wasn’t trying to play it cool about today’s 6 p.m. meeting with Seton Hall at Barclays Center and Saturday’s game against No. 1 Michigan State or Virginia Tech.

“I’m pretty excited. I can’t wait. I’m anxious,” he said.

It will be a homecoming for Cousins, but his teammates without any geographical ties to the Big Apple fully embrace the trip and the opportunity they have over the next two days.

This four-team event is the chance for the Sooners (3-0) to put themselves on the national map early in the season.

“We have the chance to face some real good teams, so the competition level is stepping up,” point guard Jordan Woodard said. “This is something I’m really looking forward to.”

Events like these often serve as defining games on NCAA tournament résumés and springboards to successful seasons.

The Sooners last played in the event in 2007. They lost to Memphis in the semifinals, but finished third with a win in the consolation game over Gardner-Webb. Four months later that team was back in the NCAA tournament as a No. 6 seed.

OU isn’t thinking that far ahead as it prepares to face the Pirates (3-1).

This will be its second game this season against a team from a major conference and its toughest test to date.

“They play a lot of people — have good depth,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “First and foremost is the variety of people that can score combined with their size. This will be the biggest team we’ve played by a lot.”

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