Another Big 12 game for TCU, another barnburner. The No. 16 Horned Frogs and the No. 9 Sooners couldn’t find separation in regulation Saturday in Norman, but the Sooners’ ability to get to the free throw line in overtime and its team-record of 19 made three-pointers were the difference in Oklahoma pulling away to complete a season sweep of TCU, 102-97.
The Horned Frogs have now lost four of their first five conference games by a total of 11 points. The last three losses entering Saturday were by a combined six points to then-No. 12 Oklahoma, then-No. 10 Kansas and Texas.
“I hate to say the same thing I said the other game, but obviously a great game, down to the wire, beat us at the free throw line, but we’ve got to guard [Trae] Young better even though we got nine turnovers out of him,” TCU head coach Jamie Dixon said. “The 10 three’s from him and the 19 they hit as a team was the difference maker, but, I’m proud of our guys.”
Oklahoma was able to coerce TCU into five fouls in the extra five minutes, which resulted in the Sooners converting eight of their ten shots from the charity stripe.
“They seemed to make the plays by getting to the foul line down the stretch and we didn’t,” Dixon said. “You can’t settle on jump shots, but that’s where we’re going to improve going forward here.”
OU forwards Kristian Doolittle and Khadeem Lattin hit on all six of their combined free throw attempts, while Sooner point guard Trae Young, the nation’s leading scorer, went two-for-four from the line. The Sooners as a team shot 13 of 22 on free throws while TCU made nine on half as many attempts, eleven.
In regulation, the Horned Frogs were in a position to close out a signature road win. Following two free throws by TCU forward Kouat Noi and a one of two trip at the free throw line for Young, the Sooners eventually found themselves with the ball with 15.6 seconds and TCU ahead by one, 87-86.
The basketball ended up in Young’s hands and his drive into the paint resulted in a three-pointer from the left corner by OU guard Christian James that gave the Sooners the lead, 89-87, with 6.3 seconds left in regulation.
“We did some things different to try to get the ball out of Young’s hands, other people have tried that too as well, but he’s really good at going back and getting it,” Dixon said.
Then, TCU ran the same end-of-game play that they did Wednesday against Texas, and this time guard Jaylen Fisher converted on the driving, game-tying layup to even the score at 89, which sent the game to overtime.
“I’m proud of Jaylen and how he responded,” Dixon said.
While Fisher said “nothing” was different between the two plays, he did say he “knew he was going to make it this time around.”
The sophomore guard finished with a team-high 22 points and five assists, hitting four of his nine three-point attempts. The 22 points were a career-high with his previous best being the 21 he scored against William & Mary this season.
Ultimately, TCU’s demise came down to the Sooners shooting from deep, as they hit a team-record 19 three-pointers with 10 coming from Young, who missed only eight of his 18 attempts from long-range. Young’s teammates shot a combined 60 percent from behind the arc, 9-15.
A factor that contributed to the Sooners’ success shooting three’s was how they rebounded. Even though TCU lost the battle on the glass by only one rebound, 41-40, the Horned Frogs surrendered 14 offensive boards.
“I thought second shots were the other big thing because then you have to guard them for another 30 seconds and that’s huge,” Dixon said. “That cost us as well. We’ve got to finish those plays and get stops.”
Even though the defeat dropped the Horned Frogs’ to a 1-4 start in Big 12 play, TCU left Norman with a glass-half mindset going forward.
“I think there is a complete confidence because you can see how we came out and responded tonight to falling down and coming back again, so there’s not a doubt in our minds,” Dixon said. “I am positive without a shadow of a doubt that we are as good as anybody. I think we’re going to show it down the road here.”
The Horned Frogs return home to Schollmaier Arena for its next game Wednesday, Jan. 17 against Iowa State. Tip-off is set for eight p.m.