Head Coach of Oklahoma Sooners: Porter Moser (first season)
Notable Wins: at. Texas, vs. Kansas, at. West Virginia
Oklahoma entered the month of February as one of the favorites to win a stacked Big 12 Conference, but a late-season skid would put a halt to their momentum, and a dent in their title hopes. In January, the Sooners went on a five-game winning streak that included wins over Kansas, Alabama, and Texas. After picking up their second victory over West Virginia, Oklahoma lost their next four games by five points or less, including a pair of Bedlam games to Oklahoma State.
This tough stretch of late-season play would lead to the vaunted 8-seed spot in the NCAA Tournament, and while OU managed to defeat longtime rival Missouri in the first round, they ran into Gonzaga during the next round. The 87-71 loss ended the Sooners season, and longtime head coach Lon Kruger retired shortly after. New head coach Porter Moser will take the reins after a very successful run with Loyola-Chicago that featured a pair of deep tournament runs.
Oklahoma Sooners – Changes in The Team
Key Returners: G Umoja Gibson, G Elijah Harkless
Key Losses: G Austin Reeves, G De’Vion Harman, F Brady Zanek
Key Newcomers: F Tanner Groves, F Jacob Groves, G Jordan Goldwire
Oklahoma will look a lot different this season, as they enter a new regime, and have a lot of production to replace. The Sooners lost four seniors, and all three of their leading scorers. Senior guard Austin Reaves graduated after leading OU in scoring with 18.3 ppg. Sophomore guard De’Vion Harman scored 12.9 ppg, and he transferred to Oregon. Senior forward Brady Manek averaged 10.8 ppg, and he’ll use his final year of eligibility at UNC.
While the Sooners did lose a big chunk of production, they do have reinforcements on their way. Coach Moser may have won the transfer portal with the signing of Tanner and Jacob Groves from Eastern Washington. Tanner, a senior forward, was the Big Sky Conference Player of the Year after he averaged 17.2 ppg and 8 rpg. Jacob, a sophomore guard, scored 9.3 ppg before exploding in the near upset over Kansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The last time the Sooners were led by a pair of brothers, it resulted in an Elite Eight appearance. The Groves may not be the Griffins, but they do provide OU with a chance to have another competitive season.
Along with landing the Groves brothers, coach Moser was also able to bring in former Duke guard Jordan Goldwire and Eastern Illinois guard Marvin Johnson. As a senior, the 6’5 guard averaged 5.8 ppg, 4 apg, and an ACC-leading 2.2 steals per game. He was the first guard under Coach K to average 2 steals per game, and he went on to make the ACC-All Defensive Team. He seems like an ideal fit for the tenacious style Moser likes to play, and with playing time no longer being an obstacle, Goldwire should have a huge role for the Sooners. Johnson made first-team Ohio Valley Conference while leading EIU in scoring (15.4) and assists (4.7).
Guards Umoja Gibson and Elijah Harkless are the leading returning scorers. Harkless was solid during his first season in Norman, displaying a solid all-around game that should mesh well with Goldwire. He recorded a pair of double-doubles last season, and he averaged 8.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.3 apg, and nearly 2 spg. Gibson scored 9.1 ppg, while leading the Sooners in three-point percentage (41.1%). Sophomore forward Jalen Hill will likely take on a bigger role in year 3.
Oklahoma Sooners Projected Lineup:
Projected Lineup: G Jordan Goldwire, G Elijah Harkless, G Jacob Groves, F Jalen Hill, F Tanner Groves
Porter Moser’s first year in the Big 12 should come with growing pains, but after an eventful pair of tournament appearances, the first-year coach shouldn’t be overlooked. Despite losing a lot of production, Oklahoma retooled adequately. The Groves brothers will be fun to watch, and Goldmire’s experience and tenacity on the defensive side will be appreciated. If Harkless and Hill take steps forward, OU will remain competitive. Although likely not Big 12 title contenders with the likes of Baylor and Kansas being what they are, they will still compete with everyone in the league on a game-to-game basis.
Projected Finish: 5th in Big 12, NCAA Tournament Bid
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