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Eagles set to play exhibition basketball game at Oklahoma

Junior forward Josh Faurot figures to be in the starting lineup Monday when OC plays at Oklahoma in an exhibition game.
Junior forward Josh Faurot figures to be in the starting lineup Monday when OC plays at Oklahoma in an exhibition game.

OKLAHOMA CITY (Nov. 3, 2013) – For the first time in seven years, Oklahoma Christian will see how it matches up against a NCAA Division I foe in an exhibition basketball game.

OC will travel south on Interstate 35 to Norman on Monday to face the Oklahoma Sooners in a 7 p.m. game in historic McCasland Field House, which served as OU’s home basketball facility from 1928 to December 1975. Tickets are on sale at www.soonersports.com or through the OU Athletics Ticket Office at (800) 456-4668. Tickets cost $5 and all public seats are reserved.

It will be the only exhibition game of the season for OC and the second of two for the Sooners, who downed NCAA Division II Washburn (Kan.) 104-76 on Saturday.

OC coach Dan Hays and Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger have known each other for years, in good part through their connection with USA Basketball. Kruger was the head coach and Hays an assistant coach for the North team in the 1990 U.S. Olympic Festival in Minneapolis and for the gold-medal winning U.S. team in the 1991 Junior Men’s World Championship in Edmonton, Alberta.

“This is a good opportunity for our program and we appreciate coach Kruger for scheduling us for an exhibition game,” Hays said.

Opportunities to play against Division I foes – either in exhibition or regular-season contests – have been rare for the Eagles. During the past 35 seasons, OC has played in only four such games.

Perhaps the biggest win in OC basketball history came on Dec. 3, 1979, when the Eagles faced NCAA Division I Memphis State (now just Memphis) at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, Tenn. OC, then coached by Jerry Jobe, led most of the way and beat the Dana Kirk-coached Tigers 90-76.

During the 1982-83 season, OC gave Division I San Diego a scare before falling 70-61 in a regular-season game.

In exhibition play, the Eagles are 0-2 all-time against Division I foes. OC played at Oklahoma State in 2005 and led the Cowboys early in the second half before losing 84-62 and in 2006, the Eagles played a Halloween night game at OU and lost 79-51 to the Sooners.

OC went 19-12 last season and reached the National Christian College Athletic Association title game. The Eagles figure to have a new look this season, with the departure of 6-foot-10 All-America center Will Reinke to the European professional ranks.

Against OU, the Eagles probably won’t start a true center but likely will go with two forwards (junior Josh Faurot and redshirt freshman Jordan VanDeKop) and three guards (senior Kendre Talley and juniors Nick Tate and Willie Harper). Of those five, Talley started last season while Faurot, Harper and Tate played key roles off the bench.

The Sooners are coming off a 20-12 season that included the program’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 2009. Oklahoma lost 70-55 to San Diego State in the NCAA tournament in March and of the 10 players who saw action for the Sooners in that game, five remain on the roster, including starting guard Je’lon Hornbeak.

The other returnees are Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins, Tyler Neal and Cameron Clark. Among the new faces for the Sooners this season are 6-foot-8 forward Ryan Spangler, a transfer from Gonzaga, and 6-foot-8 D.J. Bennett, who redshirted last season.

The Sooners took a 10-day trip to Belgium and France in August and played five games against professional and club teams in those countries. Against Washburn, the Sooners started Spangler and Clark at forward and Cousins, Hield and Jordan Woodard at forward. Hornbeak, who underwent surgery in August to repair a stress fracture in his foot, did not play.

After the exhibition game at OU, OC will open its regular season on Nov. 9 against York (Neb.) in the Eagles’ annual homecoming contest.