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.”


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

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