Staff / OU Media Relations
The University of Oklahoma and University of Arkansas have agreed to a multi-year, neutral-site men’s basketball series that will take place at BOK Center in Tulsa, the schools announced Wednesday. The first two installments are scheduled for Dec. 12, 2020, and Dec. 11, 2021.
Located midway between the Oklahoma (125 miles) and Arkansas (116 miles) campuses, BOK Center offers a central location that caters to alumni and fan bases from both universities. Tickets for the matchup will be divided at midcourt to create a unique 50-50 atmosphere for fans from the bordering states.
“We're very excited to partner with the University of Arkansas and BOK Center in creating a new basketball series which we believe will develop into a fantastic pre-holiday tradition,” said OU Vice President and Athletics Director Joe Castiglione. “Our goal is to turn this border rivalry into a weekend-long event that brings together two passionate fan bases and creates an atmosphere second to none. The setting is a world-class venue located approximately halfway between the two campuses. We've always received excellent support from our fans in the Tulsa area and we know there are a lot of passionate Razorbacks fans in that area too. We look forward to bringing this matchup to downtown Tulsa.”
Ticket information and official branding for the series will be announced at a later date.
"We were so grateful for the support we received from our Tulsa area fans when we played at BOK Center two seasons ago and have since been looking into ways to further engage our fan base in Northeastern Oklahoma,” said OU head coach Lon Kruger. “Bringing this premiere neutral-site concept to Tulsa will be a great experience for our team and fans. Coach Musselman had a terrific first season at Arkansas and we know the Razorbacks will be a challenging non-conference matchup as we prepare for Big 12 play. Both the action on the court and atmosphere in the stands should make for an exciting event."
Oklahoma and Arkansas have faced off on 28 previous occasions, including 11 times since 1998. The Razorbacks own the series lead 16-12, but the Sooners have won seven of the last 11 meetings.
Arkansas is entering its second season under head coach Eric Musselman, who is one of 10 current NCAA Division I or NBA head coaches who previously coached under Kruger. Musselman was an assistant for Kruger during two of his seasons (2000-02) as the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks.
Arkansas associate head coach Chris Crutchfield spent eight seasons on Kruger's staff at Oklahoma, including OU's run to the 2016 Final Four.
The Sooners are 2-0 all-time at BOK Center, defeating Tulsa in 2008 and USC and 2018. The Razorbacks will be playing at the arena for the first time in program history.
OU is 13-9 against current SEC teams during the Kruger era, including 11-5 against schools which were SEC members at the time of competition. The Sooners have won five straight games against SEC schools, including wins over Missouri and Mississippi State last season.
Coming off a third-place finish in the Big 12, the Sooners expect to return over 70% of their scoring next season behind will-be seniors Brady Manek (14.4 points, 6.2 rebounds) and Austin Reaves (14.7 points, 5.3 rebounds).
OU’s complete non-conference schedule will be released at a later time.