NORMAN — De’Vion Harmon and Austin Reaves have waited a long time for this moment.
Oklahoma’s newcomers fueled an impressive 85-67 victory over UTSA on Tuesday night in the Lloyd Noble Center. Harmon and Reaves scored 23 points apiece in the win over the Conference USA school.
“They played great. They’ve been doing that every day, and for them to come out and do that in their first official game as a Sooner is cool,” said junior Brady Manek, who finished with 16 points. “I’m really happy for them. Happy for the team; the team played well. Those two guys, (if) they keep it up, I think we can do something special.”
For Harmon, his debut begins a college journey that began when OU coach Lon Kruger started recruiting him hard in high school. For Reaves, it ended a year of waiting following his transfer from Wichita State.
Harmon wears his emotions on his sleeve and his enthusiasm seeped into the postgame news conference.
“Man, we played a really good second half. A really good second half. I’m proud of my guys,” Harmon said.
“Austin went nuts in the second half. That was crazy. And to witness that, just to see him just to go nuts, as a teammate, you’ve got to be happy for him. That’s why I was celebrating. I was like, ‘Man, this dude is going nuts.’ ”
Their games were needed on a night on which senior Kristian Doolittle did not play because he was serving a one-game suspension from the NCAA for participating in an unsanctioned summer league game.
Reaves’ last game at Wichita State was in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
“Yeah, it feels good. I mean, sitting out a year wasn’t fun, but it was needed. So, it was real fun (playing),” said Reaves, who matched his personal-best scoring game, which came in his sophomore season against Tulsa.
The Sooners entered the locker room tied with the Roadrunners at 36, but they took command after going on a 27-6 run to cancel any hope for a UTSA upset.
“Our guys came in in the second half and played with a lot more freedom and aggressiveness,” Kruger said. “We rebounded the ball better to start the second half. … When our wings went down in and rebounded defensive boards and keyed fast-break opportunities, that was a big key in the ball game.”
The Sooners finished with 34 fast-break points.
Defense also played an important role for OU. UTSA only shot 33.8% from the field, and the Sooners registered eight blocks, including three by Manek and two by Harmon.
“I thought it was a good defensive effort,” Kruger said. “I thought we made them work for their shots. Made them earn their shots. Still, they’re going to score some. But I thought our guys had pretty good focus on the defensive end.”
UTSA is coached by Steve Henson, who served as an assistant for Kruger at OU in 2011-16.
Next up for the Sooners is Minnesota, a game that will be played Saturday in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Tipoff time is 7 p.m.
“This team, as young as we are, if we can win and learn, that’s a pretty good combination,” Kruger said. “Just continue to get better with each day in practice.
“Getting one in the right column to start is great. Get back to practice, watch some video and get ready for a Minnesota club on Saturday.”