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Oklahoma 90, TCU 89: Frogs fall in first Big 12 game of the season

TCU couldn’t hold on to a lead late, as they fall to the Sooners in Fort Worth.

Kenrich Williams throws down two of his team high 22 points Saturday afternoon against Oklahoma.
Melissa Triebwasser

Fort Worth, Texas - Trey Young had just enough for Oklahoma on Saturday afternoon, as the Sooners topped TCU 90-89 in both teams’ first game of the Big 12 slate. Young, one of the best players in college basketball, scored 39 points and dished out 14 assists to lead the Sooners to victory.

With just 7.9 seconds left, and TCU leads 89-88, Young drove to the basket and drew a foul to go to the line. He made both free throws, and TCU’s final shot - a Kenrich Williams three point attempt - was short, and Oklahoma would hold on to win.

The loss, TCU’s first of the season, is especially tough when you consider that TCU had a 13-point lead with ten minutes remaining in the game, and a five point lead with three minutes left.

“We have to close better,” Kenrich Williams said after the game, mentioning transition defense and rebounding as two things TCU struggled with late, as Oklahoma worked their way back into the game. TCU coach Jamie Dixon mentioned the same thing, saying that TCU’s 12 wins this season masked some of the defensive problems they’ve had, especially in transition.

Dixon also mentioned disappointment with TCU’s final shot, saying they practice that play a lot, and expected a better look from it. That wasn’t the sole reason for the loss, Dixon pointed out, as the transition defense needs to get better.

Lon Kruger, Oklahoma’s head coach, said that the Sooners simply had to keep their heads up and grind it out to get back in the game. They did so, on the back of Young and Kameron McGusty, the latter of whom finished with 22 points, including a big three late.

TCU had five players finish in double-digits, led by Kenrich with 22 points and nine rebounds. Desmond Bane and Ahmed Hamdy both finished with 15 points for TCU, while Kouat Noi had 14 points and nine rebounds, and Vladimir Brodziansky put in 12 points.

It was a streaky start for both teams, as the Sooners jumped out to an 11-0 start in the first four minutes of the contest. Trae Young flashed his greatness right out of the gate, and Oklahoma’s defense recorded four blocks as TCU looked overwhelmed early.

TCU’s bench would give them a spark though, as Alex Robinson, Kouat Noi, and Ahmed Hamdy all entered the game and settled the Frogs down. The three reserves would lead TCU on a 10-0 run over the next two minutes, making it an 11-10 contest at the 14-minute mark of the first half.

It became a back and forth game after that, with neither team shooting particularly well, and at the 3:10 mark of the first half the two teams were tied at 36. The last three minutes of the half would be exactly what everyone came to see, though, with two high-powered offenses duking it out. Kouat Noi and Kenrich Williams led the charge for TCU.

With just under three minutes remaining, Trae Young put up a sky high floater that was rejected by Kenrich Williams. The block led to a corner three for Noi, which made the building light up.

Another stop, followed by another three from Noi almost brought the building down, and TCU’s fans were as loud as they’ve been all season. A three by Young would be the last points for Oklahoma in the half, and two free throws from Kenrich would round things out for TCU. TCU took a 46-41 lead into halftime.

The Frogs would extend their lead out of the break, with baskets from JD Miller and Desmond Bane pushing the Frogs to a 51-41 advantage.

Oklahoma would battle back though, cutting TCU’s lead to 51-48 out of a timeout. The score would remain within five, until a transition dunk from Desmond Bane, followed by a Bane jumper and a Hamdy layup would give TCU another double-digit lead, 63-52, with 12 minutes remaining in the game.

One of the keys to TCU’s run was absolutely Desmond Bane’s defense on Trae Young. He locked up the freshman phenom, and TCU’s bigs cleaned things up on the glass, allowing the Frogs to create some space on the scoreboard.

TCU would keep their lead at more than six, until a three pointer from Trae Young with 7:38 remaining cut TCU’s lead to 73-69. A Desmond Bane dunk on the other end would extend TCU’s lead back to 75-69.

Young and Kameron McGusty would continue to put Oklahoma on their backs, though, as the Sooners cut TCU’s lead to one, 77-76, with five minutes to go in the game. Big free throws from Kenrich Williams and Ahmed Hamdy would help TCU hold their lead, and a layup by Hamdy with 3:17 left gave TCU an 83-78 advantage.

A 5-0 run from Oklahoma would tie things up at 83, but Hamdy would give TCU the advantage back with two free throws, after an offensive rebound. Trae Young would tie it again with just over one minute left in the game, and TCU called a timeout.

TCU would regain the lead on a Vlad bucket, but an Oklahoma three would push the Sooners in front 88-87. A Kenny Hustle jumper would give TCU an 89-88 lead, but then Trae Young got to the free throw line, and that would be enough for the Sooners to win.

It’s a long season, something coach Dixon mentioned multiple times during his postgame comments, and TCU is still in fantastic shape, but dropping a home game definitely hurts. They’ll have a chance to get Oklahoma back on January 13th, when they head to Norman.

For now, though, TCU is now 12-1 on the season, and they have to get their heads up quickly. The Frogs head to Waco for a game against Baylor on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Oklahoma heads home to host Oklahoma State on Wednesday.