Oklahoma men's coach Lon Kruger and athletic director Joe Castiglione announced the Sooners' 13-game 2016-17 non-conference schedule on Monday. The slate for OU, which is coming off of its fifth Final Four in school history, features eight home matchups (one of them exhibition) and potentially four contests against teams that participated in last year's NCAA Tournament.
Highlighting the schedule are an eight-team Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic (Nov. 17-20), a road contest at Wisconsin (Dec. 3), a matchup against Wichita State at Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena (Dec. 10), a home game vs. Memphis (Dec. 17), a contest versus Auburn (Dec. 21) in Springfield, Mass., and a home game against Florida in the 2017 SEC/Big 12 Challenge (Jan. 28).
“Once again, a really challenging non-conference schedule, which I think will be very beneficial for our young club,” said Kruger, who will enter his sixth year with the Sooners. “We have a lot of guys stepping into new roles next season, so lining up against some great teams in the non-conference will prepare us well for Big 12 play. As always, we look forward to sharing these great opportunities with our fans, who will no doubt help play a huge role for us again next year at the Lloyd Noble Center.”
The Sooners open their 2016-17 slate with a lone exhibition game against NCAA Division II member Washburn (15-13 last year) on Tuesday, Nov. 8, inside Lloyd Noble Center.
OU commences the regular season at home versus Northwestern State (8-20) on Sunday, Nov. 13, before traveling to Puerto Rico for the 2016 Puerto Rico Tip-Off, held Nov. 17-20. The field includes Arizona State (15-17), Clemson (17-14), Davidson (20-13), Missouri (10-21), Northern Iowa (23-13; NCAA round of 32), Tulane (12-22) and Xavier (28-6; NCAA round of 32).
“The three-game tournaments provide many opportunities for our team to spend time together on the road,” Kruger said. “Everyone is able to get to know each other a little better. Obviously, three tough games in a four-day span help prepare you for conference and postseason play. A lot of benefits on and off the floor.”
The Sooners return to Lloyd Noble Center for home games on Friday, Nov. 25, against Abilene Christian (13-18) and Tuesday, Nov. 29, versus Northern Colorado (10-21). Oklahoma will then experience its first true road contest of the season at Wisconsin (22-13; NCAA Sweet 16) on Saturday, Dec. 3.
After a home game against in-state foe Oral Roberts (14-17) on Wednesday, Dec. 7, Oklahoma will host Wichita State (26-9; NCAA round of 32) on Saturday, Dec. 10, inside Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena.
OU concludes another home-and-home series by hosting Memphis (19-15) on Saturday, Dec. 17. The Sooners will then travel to Springfield, Mass., to take on Auburn (11-20) on Wednesday, Dec. 21.
The Sooners close non-conference play on Saturday, Jan. 28, at home versus Florida (21-15) as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. It will mark the second-ever matchup between the two schools. The lone meeting came during the 1995-96 season, when then-head coach Lon Kruger led Florida to a 76-72 overtime win over Oklahoma in the All-College Tournament in Oklahoma City. OU is 3-0 all-time in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.