Oklahoma is looking to record the 1,500th victory in school history before heading out on a stretch of four straight games away from home.
The 17th-ranked Sooners try for the milestone win when they face Louisiana-Monroe on Tuesday night.
Oklahoma played its first game Saturday since national player of the year Blake Griffin departed for the NBA, rolling to a 95-71 victory over Mount Saint Mary’s as freshman reserve Steven Pledger scored 21 points.
The player replacing Griffin inside is freshman Keith “Tiny” Gallon, who had 18 points and 15 rebounds in his college debut.
“He did it in 22 minutes,” coach Jeff Capel said. “He has the potential to be a very good rebounder because he is really long, he’s big and he has good hands.”
The play of the freshmen has given the Sooners hope that they can surpass last season’s accomplishment of losing to eventual national champion North Carolina in an NCAA regional final. Gallon, freshman Tommy Mason-Griffin and sophomore Willie Warren are the first trio of McDonald’s All-Americans in Oklahoma history.
“What (people) fail to realize is we have probably one of the most talented freshman classes in the country,” said Warren, who averaged 14.6 points a season ago. “So they’re going to come out here and play ball, and they’ve shown me that I have nothing to worry about and that I can have someone to lean on when my shot isn’t falling.”
Warren had 15 points and 11 assists in the opener for Oklahoma, 29th all-time in Division I in victories.
“We have to do a better job of really understanding and listening to a scouting report and carrying that over to a game,” Capel said. “Our sense of urgency to get back and our communication needs to get better. I still want to play faster.”
The Sooners play at Virginia Commonwealth over the weekend before a trip to the Great Alaska Shootout.
Louisiana-Monroe (1-1) isn’t expected to provide much of a challenge Tuesday, having managed 10 wins in each of the last two seasons. The Warhawks, though, have all of their starters back as well as fifth-year senior Tony Hooper, who was granted the extra season after suffering a broken foot last season that limited him to four games.
Hooper scored 18 points and the first seven of the contest as Louisiana-Monroe beat Alcorn State 82-66 on Sunday. Reserve forward Tommie Sykes added 16.
Louisiana-Monroe bounced back from an 82-62 loss at LSU on Friday in which it committed 19 turnovers and shot 40.0 percent.
Oklahoma is 3-0 against Louisiana-Monroe, winning 95-69 on Nov. 23, 1996, in the last meeting.