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OU Hoops: Sooners Set To Face Auburn In Birthday of Basketball

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With two consecutive losses to Wichita State and Memphis now in the rearview mirror, the Oklahoma basketball team (6-4) will be back in action on Wednesday against Auburn (8-2) in the Birthday of Basketball.

Related: OU Women Beat Xavier In Puerto Rico Classic

The Big 12-SEC clash will tip-off at 11:30 a.m. inside of Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., exactly 125 days to the date when James Naismith first introduced the game of basketball at a YMCA.

Here are a few things to know about the game:

Kruger’s switching things up

After not changing up the starting lineup last season, OU head coach Lon Kruger has done so four times already this season, and most recently moved freshman Jordan Shepherd into the starting point guard role in the game against Memphis. Despite losing, it proved to be a good decision as Shepherd exploded for a career-high 18 points while playing with extreme confidence.

In return, Christian James shifted to a bench role which greatly helped the second unit on the offensive end. James still played his normal 25 minutes, but shot an efficient 6-of-10 from the field for 15 points while adding seven rebounds.

Woodard stays hot

As the Sooners’ most experienced player, Jordan Woodard has been on a heater as of late and is averaging 25 points in OU’s last two contests. The senior has embraced the role he has on the offensive end, and is knocking down clutch shots when OU needs them most. Woodard drilled a game-tying 3-pointer against Memphis to force overtime, but the Sooners were ultimately outscored by five in the extra session.

One of the benefits of moving Shepherd to the starting point guard spot is that it allows Woodard to play off the ball like he did on last year’s Final Four team when Isaiah Cousins ran point for the Sooners. Woodard is a tremendous catch-and-shoot player and is making 42 percent of his shots from behind the arc.

Series history

The Sooners and Tigers are 1-1 all-time against each other with the last meeting coming in the first round of the 1988 NCAA Tournament, where the Sooners won 107-87. The first time the teams met was in 1978 in St. Petersburg, where Auburn won 78-70.

OU looks to make it seven straight wins against the Southeastern Conference when the Sooners square off with the Tigers, while Kruger looks to improve to 7-1 all-time against schools which were SEC members at the time of competition. 

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