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Oklahoma Seeks To Replace Three Key Starters
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By Wendell Barnhouse | wendell@big12sports.com
Big12Sports.com Correspondent


Story line
Oklahoma returned to the NCAA Tournament last season in its second season under Lon Kruger. The Sooners now face challenge of replacing three key players from last season. Romero Osby, Amath M'Baye and Steven Pledger combined to average 37.7 points and 15.5 rebounds. Ryan Spangler, a 6-8 forward who sat out last season after transferring from Gonzaga, is expected to have a major impact in the front court.

Coach: Lon Kruger, 35-28 in two seasons, 514-332 overall in 27 seasons.
Last season: 20-12 overall, 11-7 in Big 12, tied 4th.
NCAA Tournament: Lost in NCAA Tournament second round.

Top players
Sophomore guard Buddy Hield, senior forward Cameron Clark, senior forward Tyler Neal, sophomore guard Je'lon Hornbeak, sophomore guard Isaiah Cousins, sophomore forward Ryan Spangler, freshman guard Jordan Woodard, freshman guard Frank Booker, junior forward D.J. Bennett.

Coach Kruger says
"I think with Kansas coming back with their run of championships and the new guys coming in, they are right there at the top. Oklahoma State, with all their guys back, is also right there with Kansas. Baylor, they're right there near the third spot with their frontline back and new guys. After that I think you have got a pretty good balance. We feel like we're one of those that deserve to be in that conversation."

Notable
Senior forward Cameron Clark led OU in scoring in four of its five August exhibition games in Belgium and France and paced the team with his 16.8 points per contest. Clark is the Sooners' most experienced player (60 starts in 95 career games). … Lon Kruger became the first coach to lead five different teams to the NCAA Tournament when the Sooners made the field last March. Kruger also has coached teams at Kansas State, Illinois, Florida and UNLV that made the bracket. … Oklahoma averaged 77.4 points over its last eight games and topped 80 points in five of those games. … The Sooners led the Big 12 in free throw shooting, making 75.7 percent from the line.

Season opener
Nov. 8 vs. Alabama at American Airlines Center

Top nonconference games
Nov. 11 vs. North Texas in Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic
Dec. 14 vs. Tulsa
Dec. 21 vs. Texas A&M in Houston Big 12-SEC challenge

Conference opener
Jan. 4 at Texas

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