NORMAN — During an 83-66 men's exhibition basketball win over Washburn (Kan.), a pair of newcomers stole the show for the Sooners on offense.
On a Friday night when OU shot a decent 44 percent from the field and 50 percent from behind the arc, freshman guard Buddy Hield and junior transfer Amath M'Baye combined for 30 points and six rebounds to help the Sooners secure their victory over the NCAA Division II Ichabods. The pair's sustained success throughout the game led to extensive minutes for the fresh faces on this year's Sooner team that touts quality depth on the bench.
But OU coach Lon Kruger wasn't surprised that his team was led by a pair of players who were making their Sooner debuts.
“We've got seven or eight guys on this team that could lead us in scoring, so it wasn't surprising because they've showed us in practice and in scrimmages that they're going to be good scorers for us,” Kruger said. “I also think we've got a club this year that people coming off the bench will be the reason we win ballgames, which means we have quality depth, too.”
This season's added depth forced Kruger to remove seniors Andrew Fitzgerald and Sam Grooms, along with junior Cameron Clark, from the starting lineup. The trio of experienced veterans combined for 90 starts last season. But Kruger's decision allowed M'Baye to enter the starting rotation.
“We're not locked into any starting lineup, and I thought the second group went in and did a good job,” Kruger said. “Some actually played better than our starters did in terms in production, and that was good from the standpoints of having depth in our lineup.”
Throughout much of the first half, M'Baye led both teams with six points. The Wyoming transfer continued to grind and eventually became the Sooners' first double-digit scorer in the game with just under 11 minutes left in the second half.
“I think I was a little rusty, but everyone is making my job easier, whether it's the players bringing the energy or the coaches setting up the plays,” M'Baye said. “But I think it's going to be easy to get that rust out.”
Hield also had to get rid of a few kinks to find his own rhythm in the second half. He scored 11 of his total 16 points after halftime.