Horned Frogs let No. 23 Ok­la­homa slip by in fi­nal minute

Star-Telegram (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY DREW DAV­I­SON ddavi­[email protected]­gram.com

TCU had a chance to end a drought that dates back to the 1990s on Satur­day. The Frogs have de­feated a ranked team on the road just once – Jan. 19, 1998 at No. 24 Hawaii – in pro­gram his­tory.

With Kouat Noi hav­ing a ca­reer day and TCU lead­ing with less than a minute left, it looked like the drought might end. But all of it went for naught.

No. 23 Ok­la­homa made the plays it had to down the stretch, and sur­vived 76-74 over TCU at Lloyd No­ble Cen­ter.

TCU has now lost 48 straight against ranked teams on the road. The Frogs also re­main win­less when fac­ing OU in Nor­man (0-12).

“Ob­vi­ously we felt like we should have won the game, but we didn’t,” said coach Jamie Dixon, who is now 3-16 against ranked op­po­nents in his TCU ca­reer.

“There are no shoulda, woulda, coul­das. We’ve got to de­fend bet­ter.”

Ok­la­homa shot 49 per­cent from the field, in­clud­ing 57 per­cent in the sec­ond half. The Soon­ers were led by ju­nior for­ward Kris­tian Doolit­tle who scored a sea­son-high 24 points on 9 of 12 shoot­ing, and senior guard Chris­tian James who scored 15.

Doolit­tle and James were the rea­sons why OU ral­lied late. TCU was lead­ing 71-69 with less than a minute left, but fresh­man guard RJ Nem­b­hard turned it over with 52 sec­onds left.

That led to an easy layup for James, who made it a three-point play by draw­ing a weak foul by TCU senior point guard Alex Robin­son.

James made the free throw to give the Soon­ers a 72-71 lead. Nem­b­hard, who is start­ing in place of an in­jured Jaylen Fisher, missed a layup on the next pos­ses­sion. OU ex­tended its lead to 74-71 on a pair of free throws by Doolit­tle.

Robin­son re­deemed him­self with a game-ty­ing 3-pointer with 16 sec­onds left. That was short-lived though.

Doolit­tle got a nice look by driv­ing to the bas­ket on TCU cen­ter Kevin Sa­muel, and knock­ing down a short jumper for a 76-74 lead with 2.8 sec­onds left.

TCU fresh­man Ken­dric Davis put up the fi­nal shot at the buzzer, clank­ing it off the rim. The play had been de­signed to go back to Robin­son, or pos­si­bly Noi, but Davis got the fi­nal look.

“We were hop­ing maybe Alex could get the touch, but just how it is,” Dixon said. “You’re in a tough spot, 2.8 sec­onds. You’ve got a shot at the rim, a pretty good look when you con­sider the tim­ing of it all.”

In the end, it marked the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive loss for TCU. Out­side of the Ok­la­homa’s high field goal per­cent­age, Dixon wasn’t pleased with the sec­ond­chance points.

TCU had an im­pres­sive day on the boards, get­ting 17 of­fen­sive re­bounds, but con­verted that into just eight points. Senior for­ward JD Miller had six of­fen­sive re­bounds, but was just 2 of 11 from the field. Sa­muel had five of­fen­sive re­bounds, but was just 3 of 9 from the field.

OU en­tered the game as the Big 12’s best de­fen­sive re­bound­ing team too.

“We’ve got to fin­ish the play,” Dixon said. “You can’t get 17 of­fen­sive re­bounds and not fin­ish the plays.”

Added Robin­son: “It is dif­fi­cult, but we have no­body to blame but our­selves. They shot a re­ally high per­cent­age from the field. That’s not part of our iden­tity, or what we thought our iden­tity was com­ing into Big 12. We’ve got to be bet­ter.”

TCU won the re­bound­ing bat­tle, 42-36, which ranked as OU’s worst re­bound­ing mar­gin this sea­son. But the Frogs also gave up 36 points in the paint.

It sim­ply wasn’t meant to be for the Frogs.

Noi’s ca­reer day was bit­ter­sweet. He drained three con­sec­u­tive 3-point­ers dur­ing a 13-0 run in the first half, and fin­ished with a ca­reer-high eight 3-point­ers. The eight 3-point­ers are tied for sec­ond-most in a game in pro­gram his­tory.

“Just a credit to my team­mates for find­ing me when I was open,” Noi said.

Said OU coach Lon Kruger: “He shoots it so well. That’s the start­ing point. He gets rid of it quick. He shoots it deep. He’s a ter­rific shooter and we didn’t do what we had to do.”

But Noi took no joy in his big game on the heels of a loss. The fo­cus now turns to Tues­day with a matchup against West Vir­ginia in Fort Worth.

“Just have to go back to TCU and work on what we have to work on,” Noi said. “Get ready for the next game.”

JUNE FRANTZ HUNT AP

Ok­la­homa’s Kris­tian Doolit­tle goes to the bas­ket as TCU guard R.J. Nem­b­hard de­fends Satur­day in Nor­man, Okla.

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