(Photo credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports)
Porter Moser rebuilt his Oklahoma roster in the offseason, adding six transfers.
Many have played significant roles in the Sooners' 3-0 start, and they must continue to make a big impact if Oklahoma is to make its first NCAA Tournament since Moser took over before the 2021-22 season.
Heading into a Friday night game against UT Rio Grande Valley in Norman, Okla., Moser said the Sooners' depth has been one of the biggest differences so far.
"The guys that have come off the bench have been outstanding," Moser said. "It's what you want. They uplift. The level of play doesn't go down. It's a credit to them. From a psyche standpoint, everybody wants to start. You only have five in this game."
Among the key transfers who are coming off the bench are Pitt transfer John Hugley IV, who is averaging 10.3 points in 17.3 minutes per game. Oregon transfer Rivaldo Soares is averaging six points, six rebounds and 22.7 minutes.
"As a staff, we're letting them know how valuable those minutes are," Moser said. "If you get 25 minutes and the starter gets 25 minutes, it doesn't matter. It matters what you're doing on the floor when you're on the floor."
Oklahoma is coming off a 93-54 victory over Texas State on Tuesday. As for the Vaqueros, they have dropped back-to-back games since coach Matt Figger earned his 100th collegiate win in the season opener against Division II Southwestern Adventist.
"The only thing I care about is how our program gets," Figger said. "We have to keep getting better."
Friday's game will be the Vaqueros' second in a row against a Big 12 opponent. UTRGV fell 88-55 at TCU on Tuesday.
The Vaqueros have created much of their offense from their defense so far. They are forcing an average of 21 turnovers per game, tied for eighth in the country, and they rank sixth in the nation with 14.3 steals per game.
"They're going to press," Moser said. "They're going to zone. They're going to man. They're going to change up a lot. You can't just have lulls when they change. You've got to be ready and execute when they change defenses.
Four UTRGV players are averaging in double figures, including Elijah Elliott, who leads the Vaqueros at 21 points per game.
The Friday game will be the seventh all-time meeting between the programs and the first since December 2019. The Sooners have won all six matchups.
--Field Level Media