Doolit­tle comes up big as Soon­ers sur­vive TCU

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - SPORTS -

The fi­nal play was as sim­ple as it sounds: Get the ball to Kris­tian Doolit­tle.

“Let him go make a play from there,” Ok­la­homa coach Lon Kruger said. “Ei­ther drive and fin­ish or maybe kick.”

Doolit­tle chose op­tion one. The Ok­la­homa ju­nior for­ward re­ceived a pass at the top of the 3-point line with seven sec­onds left. He spun right, took three drib­bles and banked in a game-win­ner over TCU cen­ter Kevin Sa­muel with 2.8 sec­onds left.

Chants of “Dooooooo” echoed through Lloyd No­ble Cen­ter as the Ed­mond na­tive led No. 23 OU past No. 25 TCU 76-74 on Satur­day.

Doolit­tle scored a sea­son-high 24 points, 20 of which came in the sec­ond half, on 9-of-12 shoot­ing. He added 10 re­bounds to notch his first dou­ble-dou­ble since his fresh­man sea­son.

Doolit­tle has av­er­aged a team-high 15.3 points per game in Big 12 play after be­ing held below 10 points in each of his first 10 games this sea­son, and ev­ery game last sea­son.

“Doo’s been ca­pa­ble of this from the be­gin­ning,” se­nior guard Chris­tian James said. “With Ja­muni (McNeace) be­ing out, we kind of had to sac­ri­fice with him play­ing (cen­ter). But yeah, not sur­prised with what he did tonight.”

The game fea­tured 13 ties and 21 lead changes and nei­ther team held more than a 2-point lead in the fi­nal four min­utes. TCU made four 3-point­ers dur­ing that clos­ing stretch as Doolit­tle and James com­bined to score OU’s fi­nal 11 points.

TCU sopho­more for­ward Kouat Noi tried to quiet the crowd, plac­ing his fin­ger to his lips, after back-to-back 3-point­ers in the clos­ing min­utes. Noi scored a ca­reer-high 30 points on 8-of-12 3-point shoot­ing.

James and Doolit­tle re­sponded, only for TCU guard Alex Robin­son to sink a 3-pointer and tie the game 74-74 with 16 sec­onds left.

Doolit­tle would de­cide the end­ing.

“Com­ing out of the time­out, I knew the play was called for me,” he said. “It was re­ally just a read be­cause we had Chris­tian (James) in the cor­ner. If I drove and his man helped, it was go­ing to Chris­tian. Once I took my first drib­ble, I re­al­ized they weren’t go­ing to help, so I just went from there.”

Doolit­tle’s shot swirled once around the rim be­fore drop­ping in.

He stuck his tongue out as he backpedaled down the floor. McNeace picked him up after the game as a smile spread across Doolit­tle’s face.

The Soon­ers (13-3, 2-2 Big 12) pro­tected home court, lev­el­ing their record in con­fer­ence play on a day when ev­ery other Big 12 game was won by the vis­i­tor.

Ok­la­homa re­turns to Lloyd No­ble Cen­ter to face Kansas State at 6 p.m. Wed­nes­day.

[PHOTO BY BRYAN TERRY, THE OK­LA­HOMAN]

Ok­la­homa’s Kris­tian Doolit­tle (21) goes past TCU’s Kevin Sa­muel (21) dur­ing the Soon­ers’ 76-74 win Satur­day in Nor­man.

Joe Mus­satto jmus­[email protected] ok­la­homan.com

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