Oklahoma out to set tone in opener with Sam Houston

After transferring from Eastern Washington last season, Oklahoma's Tanner Groves found it difficult to compete with the physicality of Big 12 play.

Heading into his super senior season, which begins Monday when the Sooners host Sam Houston State in Norman, Okla., Groves is hoping the additional weight he added in the offseason will help boost his game -- and the fortunes of the Sooners.

"On the court, I feel more athletic," Groves said. "I feel faster than I've ever felt and stronger than I've ever felt before. That extra weight has been huge, and I'm just really pumped to see how it translates once we get going with these games."

The Sooners finished 19-16 last season, narrowly missing out on the NCAA Tournament and falling in the second round of the NIT in Porter Moser's first season as head coach.

Among Moser's offseason additions were a pair of backcourt transfers -- Grant Sherfield from Nevada and Joe Bamisile from George Washington.

Bamisile averaged 16.3 points per game last season. Sherfield averaged 19.1 points and 6.4 assists in 2021-22.

"He really can see the floor," Moser said of Sherfield. "He's one of those rare guys that can really score at all three levels."

Sam Houston is coming off a 19-14 season.

The Bearkats were picked to finish eighth in the Western Athletic Conference by the league's coaches.

Sam Houston added several transfers in the offseason, none bigger than junior forward Kaosi Ezeagu, who came from Kansas State. The 6-foot-10 Ezeagu averaged 4.2 points and 14.5 minutes for the Wildcats last season. He played in three games against the Sooners.

The addition of Ezeagu allows Bearkats coach Jason Hooten to move 6-6 Tristan Ikpe, who was playing out of position in the paint.

"Tristan had to play an undersize post for us all year long," Hooten told the Huntsville Item. "Now we have the opportunity to put a true center on the floor and move Tristan back to where he should play as a power forward. Overall, that's going to make us a better team."

The backcourt, though, figures to be Sam Houston's strength.

The group includes senior Javion May, junior Jaden Ray and Wichita State transfer Qua Grant.

Hooten expects the scoring load to be balanced.

Monday's matchup is the sixth between the programs and the first since 1998. Oklahoma has won all five previous matchups by an average of 37 points.

--Field Level Media