Nov 24, 2011; Anaheim, CA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners guard Steven Pledger (2) shoots the ball against the Washington State Cougars in the 76 Classic at the Anaheim Convention Center. Oklahoma defeated Washington State 74-59. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Big 12 Men’s Basketball Preview: Oklahoma Sooners

By looking at their overall season record, last year looked like a mediocre one for the Oklahoma Sooners. Was it? Not really. The Sooners had a record of 10-2 after their non-conference schedule, but their Big 12 Conference schedule was not as good. They finished 5-13 in conference play during last season. In their last ten games of the regular season, Oklahoma went 2-8 with their only wins being against Oklahoma State and Texas A&M.

Because of their Big 12 Conference record last season, Oklahoma was picked seventh in the conference preseason polls. The Sooners were picked ninth last year in the preseason polls and finished eighth in the Big 12. They received 34 points in the preseason poll and did not earn a single first place vote.

A bright spot for Oklahoma is the players in which they are returning this season. They are returning eight total players and five of those players include all five of Oklahoma’s starters from last year. The five returning starters include: Steven Pledger, Romero Osby, Andrew Fitzgerald, Cameron Clark, and Sam Grooms. This is the largest senior class that the Sooners have seen in 20 years. The last largest senior class for OU was in 1993 (six seniors on the roster).

Within these five starters, the Sooners are returning their leading scorer and leading rebounder from the 2011-2012 season. Steven Pledger was the leading scorer for OU with 16.2 points per game and Romero Osby was the leading rebounder for the Sooners with 7.3 rebounds per game. Both of these players were Honorable Mentions for the All-Big 12 team.

On top of their returning players, the Sooners have nine new players joining the team this season which includes both freshmen and transfers. Some of the key transfer players joining Oklahoma are Amath M’Baye (Wyoming), D.J. Bennett (Indian Hills Community College), Ryan Spangler (Gonzaga), and Jarrod Kruger (Kansas State). The only transfer player that will need to sit out this season is Ryan Spangler.

Among the new freshmen for the Sooners this year, the two that jump off the page are Isaiah Cousins and C.J. Cole. Cousins is a 6-foot-3 guard out of New York. He was selected as “Mr. Basketball” for the state of New York as a high school senior. He averaged 15.8 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game, and 3.0 steals per game in high school last year.

On the other had, Cole (who is a walk-on) averaged 16.6 rebounds per game and 21.6 points per game while in high school last year. He might not make an immediate impact for the Sooners, but the future will be bright in Norman, Oklahoma if Cole can develop into that kind of player at OU.

Oklahoma will do better than last season. The reason being because of their schedule and mainly their conference schedule. The teams lost on their conference schedule are Missouri and Texas A&M and the teams added to their conference schedule are West Virginia and TCU. Missouri and Texas A&M are good teams and OU will not see the Tigers at all this season and will only see the Aggies once instead of twice.

Last season, the Sooners were 1-4 against Missouri and Texas A&M. West Virginia will come in and be just like Missouri and Texas A&M, but TCU will not. TCU will give OU a chance of gaining two more wins this year. The Sooners will most likely finish sixth in the Big 12, but will not be dancing in March.

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Tags: Big 12 Isaiah Cousins​ Oklahoma Sooners Steven Pledger​

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