Oklahoma men's basketball: Sooners open with rout of Louisiana-Monroe

Stephen Pledger scored 15 points and three other Oklahoma players scored in double figures as the Sooners beat Louisiana-Monroe 85-51 Sunday.
by Stephanie Kuzydym Published: November 11, 2012
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photo - Oklahoma's Je'Lon Hornbeak (5) and Louisiana's Trent Mackey (5) dive for a ball during a men's college basketball game between the University of Oklahoma and the University of Louisiana-Monroe at the Loyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla., Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012.  Photo by Garett Fisbeck, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma's Je'Lon Hornbeak (5) and Louisiana's Trent Mackey (5) dive for a ball during a men's college basketball game between the University of Oklahoma and the University of Louisiana-Monroe at the Loyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla., Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012. Photo by Garett Fisbeck, The Oklahoman

NORMAN — Eleven minutes passed before the season-opener novelty wore off.

Once the Oklahoma settled in, it was a former starter who began to lead.

Coming off the bench for the first time since his freshman year, senior Andrew Fitzgerald triggered a key spurt midway through the first half that propelled the Sooners to an 85-51 victory over Louisiana-Monroe before a crowd of 3,456 at Lloyd Noble Center. Fitzgerald had 12 points and six rebounds — grabbing two boards and scoring off Amath M’Baye’s pass as Oklahoma pushed its lead to 10 during that stretch.

“Me and Coach had our meeting, and he said that I’ll come off the bench some games,” Fitzgerald said. “He still wants me to be aggressive and help this team out scoring wise.”

In a day and age of one-and-done players, second-year coach Lon Kruger played all five of his seniors and all three of his juniors on the roster.

 “A lot of times guys don’t stay around for four years,” Kruger said. “Got five seniors, so that experience, whether it’s starting or coming off the bench, is invaluable. This is a group that’s motivated to get to postseason play.

“We talked about that a lot in the offseason and in the summer and fall in preparation with the season to keep getting better throughout the year.”

 Senior starter Steven Pledger led the team with 15 points. He had five 3-pointers and one rebound. But M’Baye was the biggest contributor all-around. The junior transfer finished with 12 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two blocks in his first regular season game with the Sooners. His mother, who traveled from Bordeaux, France, was in the stands to see his first collegiate start.

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by Stephanie Kuzydym
Reporter
Stephanie Kuzydym learned at a young age that life is a game of inches. That's just one reason why she loves football. Kuzydym joined The Oklahoman in July 2012. Before arriving in the state, Kuzydym was an intern for the sports departments at...
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