It was another slow start for the Frogs, as they fell behind by double-digits early to the Sooners once again. Saturday, though, it wasn’t a story of missed shots and turnovers as much as it was an attitude and effort issue. A well timed Jamie Dixon timeout served it’s purpose though, as TCU came alive and fought hard against a talented Sooners squad the rest of the way.
TCU switched up their starting lineup for the first time in Big 12 play, inserting Kouat Noi for JD Miller and Alex Robinson for Desmond Bane. The change, which was likely meant to help Fisher stay out of foul trouble and add some O to the bench, seemed to work, though it took some time for the first five to find a rhythm.
Trae Young had 14 quiet points in the first twenty minutes, but gave a great effort on the boards, pulling down seven in the first half. It was the Brady Manek show on offense for the Sooners though, as they leaned on the freshman forward early, and he repaid his team with 5-7 three point shooting on his way to an 18 point first frame and 22 day. The Frogs used a balanced attack - Vladimir Brodziansky led the team with 14, while Alex Robinson, Jaylen Fisher, and Desmond Bane added seven a piece, to climb to back within two at the half. Though the defense was disappointing once again, and seven turnovers was far too many, a more concerted effort on the boards and more energy on both ends of the floor made it 49-47 at the break.
The second half picked up right where the first left off, as a back and forth affair entertained from start to finish. Both teams traded big buckets; though the torrid scoring pace of the first frame slowed down some, it was still a well-played game that saw shots falling all over the floor, big time dunks, and great movement to the basket. The Frogs never trailed by more than five, but never stretched the lead to more than six - and that advantage didn’t come until late in the game, after Vlad and Noi hit back to back threes with less than six to play. But just when it looked like the Frogs might be able to pull away, Trae Young came alive, scoring nine straight points off of a series of contested threes that found the bottom of the net. Young finished with 10 threes in total, going 10-18 from behind the arc on his way to a 43 point day. He added 11 rebounds, seven assists, and nine turnovers, though, as well. His biggest assist of the day came with less than ten seconds remaining, as he found Christian James with time ticking down for a three ball that gave the Sooners a two point lead, and just 6.1 ticks on the clock. But in the kind of redemption story that makes us love college basketball, Jaylen Fisher made the most of his second opportunity, hitting a driving layup with just a second remaining to send the game to OT. It was the third time in the last four games that the Frogs have gone to an extra period.
In OT, Fish stayed hot, scoring TCU’s first eight points, but Trae Young seemed to match him shot for shot. Vlad fouled out with 2:41 to play, finishing his day with 21 points, six rebounds, and three assists. He, along with three other TCU starters, and Desmond Bane off the bench, all hit in double digits against the Sooners, but Trae Young was just too much in the extra frame. The Frogs fell behind by as many as five, which was the difference in the final score as well.
Fish led TCU in scoring with 22, including 4-9 from three. Noi and Williams had 12 a piece, and combined for 13 boards between them. Bane hit 5-6 shots off the bench for 12 points, but wasn’t a factor in the final minutes, as he stayed on the pine in the waning moments of regulation and OT. You have to wonder if the hip injury Dixon mentioned last week is affecting his minutes. TCU finished with just 12 total turnovers, a large improvement from a first half, while OU gave it up 16 times, but won the battle of the boards, including 14 on offense. It’s another heartbreaker for the Frogs, who have now lost four conference games by a total of 11 points, and will need to regroup to stop their three game slide at home against Iowa State. This team is really good, but this conference is the best in the land. The Frogs are a tournament team, but eventually, you have to stop saying and start proving it - and that starts with a win over an very beatable Cyclones team Wednesday.