(AP) - Oklahoma is fighting for respect.
The Sooners won three of their last four games last season to finish in a tie for third place in the Big 12, and 70% of their scoring is back. The accolades that normally come with such experience and success has eluded the Sooners: They were picked to finish sixth in the Big 12 preseason poll. Oklahoma guard De’Vion Harmon said the Sooners will use that as fuel.
“I like sixth,” he said. “Give us sixth every time as far as I’m concerned, because there’s nothing like working your way to the top. It’s nothing like coming from the bottom and going back up. That’s a different type of mindset that you’ll have from the team or the player that’s already at the number one spot.”
The Sooners lost Kristian Doolittle, a forward who led the team with 15.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last season and was a first-team All-Big 12 selection. But plenty of talent returns, led by seniors Austin Reaves and Brady Manek. Reaves closed out last season strong. He scored 41 points and hit the game-winner in the final game, a comeback win over TCU. Reaves made 45% of his 3-pointers in two years at Wichita State before transferring, but he made just 26% of his threes last season.
Kruger said Reaves has worked hard and returned to form. “He had a really good year last year without shooting the ball as well as he’s capable of,” Kruger said. “He’s the first one to recognize and admit that. I think he spent time in the offseason taking that to heart and working hard to get that consistency back.”