OU v SE Okla State hoops

OU's Lon Kruger talks with Kristian Doolittle (21) during the Sooners' game against Southeast Oklahoma State University , Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, at Lloyd Noble Center.

A lapse in judgment forced Kristian Doolittle to surrender his on-court role for a night.

The senior forward from Edmond was suspended for Oklahoma’s season opener against UTSA, which the Sooners convincingly won 85-67.

Doolittle didn’t get proper NCAA permission before participating in an unsanctioned summer league game this offseason.

Earlier this week, OU coach Lon Kruger said, “If he was a freshman, I’d understand that but either a lapse in judgment or a poor decision on Doo’s part. It cost him. It cost our team. Hate to see that.”

The way Doolittle assisted OU’s preparations for its first regular-season outing drastically changed.

He traded his normal crimson practice jersey for a black top, primarily worn by OU's scout team.

The black practice jerseys are then covered in white tape arranged into numerals, which represent the jersey number of the upcoming opposing player that Sooner scout squad member is supposed to mimic.

Doolittle’s assignment was to help freshman guard De’Vion Harmon and sophomore guard Jamal Bieniemy ready for UTSA’s talented backcourt, consisting of preseason Conference-USA Player of the Year Jhivvan Jackson and preseason All-C-USA selection Keaton Wallace.

Doolittle says it was his first time working with the scout team since arriving at OU in 2016 but he embraced the opportunity to give his younger teammates a realistic look at what they might face. He then offered his best cheerleading effort during Tuesday night’s game.

“It was a lot different than playing,” he said. “Just kind of had a front-row seat to the game, trying to stay involved in the game as much as I could, given the circumstances. Trying to give input on the game from a different perspective than the coaches, keep the bench into the game and just being a good cheerleader.”

After an odd week for Doolittle, he’ll get his personal season opener when OU faces Minnesota in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on Saturday.

The neutral-site clash, which is a part of the Coaches vs. Cancer series, at Sanford Pentagon is the first of a two-game road trip for OU.

“Never been to South Dakota,” Doolittle said. “This will be new for me. But we’re playing against really good teams. Minnesota’s a really good team. I don’t know who we play after that but we’ve just got to be able to take it one game at a time and be able to lock in.”

For those wondering, OU gets Oregon State in Portland, Oregon, on Tuesday, Nov. 12. And the short road swing should serve as a good building block for a mostly inexperienced OU squad, Doolittle says.

The Sooners played eight newcomers against UTSA, which involved Harmon and freshman Jalen Hill starting alongside 2018-19 staples Bieniemy and Brady Manek. Wichita State transfer Austin Reaves also started for the Sooners after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.

OU’s unfamiliar lineup was tied with UTSA at halftime but, to Doolittle's delight, dominated the second half.

“They’re very resilient,” Doolittle said. “They know more than what I thought they knew. First half was kind of shaky, shooting wise. But we were able to pick it up in the second half. We was able to lock in defensively and get a lot of rebounds, and so that just let the game wide open. Just being able to see them play freely was nice.”

Joe Buettner is a sports reporter for the Norman Transcript. You can contact him at (405) 366-3557 or jbuettner@normantranscript.com.

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