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