University of Oklahoma Head Men's Basketball Coach Lon Kruger and Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Joe Castiglione announced the Sooners' 14-game 2014 non-conference schedule Wednesday, a slate that features eight home dates (two of them exhibitions) and potentially six contests against teams that participated in last year's NCAA Tournament.
Highlighting the schedule are a Thanksgiving week trip to the Bahamas for the star-studded, eight-team Battle 4 Atlantis, a Dec. 20 game vs. Washington in Las Vegas, Nevada, home games against former longtime conference rival Missouri, 2014 NCAA Tourney participant Weber State and in-state foe Oral Roberts, and road games against Creighton and Tulsa.
OU's 16 non-conference opponents and potential opponents (not including exhibition foes) combined for a 332-203 record last year (.621).
"This is a very challenging schedule," said Kruger, who will be starting his fourth season at OU, "but because of the experience we have with our returning players and with what our new guys bring to the table, we think it suits our team extremely well. Our expectation is to always compete for a Big 12 championship, and this year's non-conference schedule will afford us the opportunity to play against great competition in November and December to help prepare us for the always difficult conference grind. The Big 12 will once again be one of the toughest -- if not the toughest -- leagues in the country."
The Sooners open with a pair of home exhibition game against NCAA Division II members Washburn (17-10 last year) on Nov. 7 and Southwestern Oklahoma State (17-10) on Nov. 11. The game against SWOSU, part of the Field House Series, will mark the third straight season OU will play at least one game inside historic McCasland Field House on campus.
The Sooners begin the regular season at home Sunday, Nov. 16, at 2 p.m. against Southeastern Louisiana (12-18 last year) before playing at Creighton (27-8; NCAA round of 32) on Nov. 19. The game against the Bluejays will be OU's first since the 1986-87 season.
Kruger's squad will return home for a Nov. 23 contest against Northwestern State (17-14) and leave the next day for the Bahamas and the Nov. 26-28 Battle 4 Atlantis tournament that will be played at Imperial Arena inside the Atlantis, Paradise Island resort. The field will also include Butler (14-17), Florida (36-3; NCAA Final Four), Georgetown (18-15), North Carolina (24-10; NCAA round of 32), UAB (18-13), UCLA (28-9; NCAA round of 32) and Wisconsin (30-8; NCAA Final Four).
The eight Battle 4 Atlantis teams have combined for 200 NCAA Tournament appearances, 55 Final Four showings and 20 national championships. The tournament bracket will be announced this summer.
The Sooners will enjoy a week-long break before rekindling their longtime rivalry against Missouri on Dec. 5 in Norman (night before home Bedlam football game) as part of the SEC-Big 12 Challenge. OU holds a 112-97 series advantage against the Tigers.
After another seven-day break, ?Oklahoma will play at Tulsa (21-13; NCAA round of 64) on Dec. 13. It will mark the Sooners' eighth game against the Golden Hurricane in 12 seasons (first at Tulsa since the 2008-09 campaign).?
Three days later (Dec. 16), the Sooners play another foe from Tulsa when they host Oral Roberts (17-16). OU is 12-2 all-time against the Golden Eagles and has won the last 12 meetings.
Oklahoma will then head to Las Vegas, Nev., for a Dec. 20 contest against Washington (17-15) as part of the MGM Grand Showcase. The two-game event (UNLV will face Utah in the other contest) will be played inside MGM Grand Garden Arena and benefit Coaches vs. Cancer, an organization with which Kruger is heavily involved.
The Sooners close out their non-conference slate with a pair of home games, taking on Weber State (19-12; NCAA round of 64) on Dec. 22 and George Mason (11-20) on New Year's Eve.