Sooners Slip Past TCU Behind Hield's Big Day
NORMAN, Oklahoma - Oklahoma used to only win cushy games, but that's just not the case anymore.
The Sooners didn't pick up their first single digit until Jan. 31, but with Saturday's 67-60 win over TCU at Lloyd Noble Center, the Sooners have won three straight games decided by single digits.
With the win, Oklahoma put itself in position for a potentially huge week next week. Wins at Iowa State on Monday and at home against Kansas next Saturday, would give the Sooners a share of the Big 12 regular season title.
But next week would have been meaningless in terms of winning a Big 12 championship if the Sooners hadn't taken care of business against the Horned Frogs. And for the first 20 minutes, it looked like Oklahoma was busy looking ahead to bigger matchups against the Cyclones and Jayhawks.
While the Sooners have won three straight single-digit games, they haven't been terrific displays of basketball. Oklahoma has had to come from behind in all three games, and found themselves down by as many as 12 points in the first half against TCU.
The Horned Frogs took the train to Norman from Fort Worth on Friday, thanks to the winter weather. Issues caused the train to arrive in Norman at 1 a.m. Meanwhile, the Sooners had a whole week to prepare for Saturday's game. Despite those factors, it was the Horned Frogs that came out with considerably more energy.
Oklahoma took a 24-23 lead on a 3-pointer from Buddy Hield with 7: 25 remaining in the half. That would be the last field goal the Sooners made in the first half. TCU, on the back of eight first-half turnovers by the Sooners, rattled off a 13-0 run to take a 36-24 lead. Only four free throws from the Sooners and some missed shots from TCU prevented the halftime score from being worse than 36-28.
TCU scored 12 points off Oklahoma turnovers in the first half and came down with seven offensive rebounds.
As has been the case many times this season, the Sooners got their mind right in the locker room and came out with a lot more intensity in the second half. Oklahoma quickly cut the TCU lead to two points, and eventually tied the score at 48-all on a Hield 3-pointer halfway through the period.
While Hield finished the game with a double-double of 21 points and a career-high 13 rebounds, he didn't score in the final nine minutes and took just a single shot. Instead, it was the OU supporting cast, led by TaShawn Thomas (15 points, eight rebounds) who carried the Sooners down the stretch.
Thomas had 11 points in the second half, including an emphatic dunk that put OU up 60-56 with 2:43 to play.
Isaiah Cousins and Ryan Spangler each had 10 points for the Sooners.
OU struggled at the line all day, missing nine free throws, but the Sooners made their last six, four of those from Jordan Woodard, to close out the Horned Frogs and pick up their 20th win of the season, the third straight 20-win season for Oklahoma.
Kyan Anderson and Trey Zeigler had 16 points each to lead TCU, while Chris Washburn had 10 points.
So now the season comes down to one week for the Sooners. Depending on the results against Iowa State and Kansas, Oklahoma could finish anywhere from fifth to first in the Big 12. The last three games haven't been the Sooner's best performances, but they've still found ways to win. Plus, Oklahoma has played well for the most part in marquee matchups this season.
Oklahoma has had a very good season, but next week could make it downright special.