Norman, OK – In the home opener for the Sooners, fans finally had a chance to see their team without former 5th overall pick, Trae Young. In their first two games of the season, Christian James led Oklahoma in scoring, but Brady Manek put on quite the show this afternoon. He logged a double-double for the third time in three games, and led all players in rebounds.
Wofford gave OU all they could handle in the first half, taking a 38-37 lead into the break due to seven made three-pointers. Led by senior Fletcher Magee, the Terriers shot effectively by keeping the OU defense on their toes; credit the Wofford coaching staff for drawing up creative ATOs and BLOBs full of screens that had the defense confused. Wofford’s guards played very disciplined the entire half, making excellent passes into catch-and-shoot situations & avoiding turnovers.
In the second half the Sooners left the door open and continued to give Wofford chances to put the game away, multiple missed layups and poor passes had the home crowd uncomfortable in their seats for the first ten minutes. At the 9:00 mark Manek and Miles Reynolds had seen enough. Reynolds, the University of the Pacific graduate transfer, provided quite the spark by scoring 12 points off the bench while hitting all six of his free throws. He averaged only 6.5 points in the first two contests with his new team, but today it was evident why Lon Kruger recruited him to Norman. His quick first step and strength getting to the rim made him a match-up nightmare for the defense.
During the final eight minutes, Oklahoma buckled down on defense and protected the glass. The fouls began to rack up for the Terriers, and physically they simply couldn’t handle OU late. The Sooners secured the victory with a dagger from Christian James, who finished with fifteen points and five rebounds.
Manek has started the season a bit slower than he may have wanted, averaging only eleven points in the first two games. Today he scored eighteen in what may have been a breakout game for his 2018-19 campaign. At 6-foot-9 with long arms, his ability to elevate over defenders stood out as he hit 3-of-7 from deep. He appears to have put on a bit of muscle since last season, which manifest itself today in visibly more leaping ability and strength on the glass. His rebounding helped secure the victory for the Sooners down the stretch, and late in the second half he caught an alley-oop from Aaron Calixte which brought the entire crowd to its feet.
Wofford’s Magee raised a lot of eyebrows today, for he came to Norman with little name recognition among Sooner fans. The Orlando, Florida native entered today’s contest averaging 19.3 points on 42 percent three point shooting. He ended only making 5-of-13 from deep, but his ability to read defenses and create space off of screens was made very clear. He’s 6-foot-4 and has an incredibly quick release on the catch-and-shoot; 2018-19 should be a strong campaign for the Southern Conference preseason player of the year.
Wofford will host 0-4 Coppin State while Oklahoma travels to the Bahamas to face off with Florida in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
This article was written by Derek Murray, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can follow us on Facebook, or on twitter. We are looking for those interested in our basketball scout apprenticeship program. For information contact us and forward your resume.