Once again, TCU had victory within its grasp. And once again it agonizingly slipped away.
The latest heart-breaker came Saturday afternoon against Oklahoma at Lloyd Noble Center.
Oklahoma freshman Trae Young tied a career high with 43 points to lead the 9th-ranked Sooners past the 16th-ranked Horned Frogs 102-97 in overtime.
“We have to learn how to finish these games, we’re coming up short with all four of these losses being close games,” said TCU forward Vlad Blodziansky, who had 21 points and six rebounds. “We have to play better defense, do the little things, play harder and smarter.”
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No. 16 TCU has lost four games in the Big 12 Conference by 11 points combined and played in four overtime periods.
After hanging with the Sooners (14-2, 4-1 in the Big 12) for much of the game, the Horned Frogs (13-4, 1-4) took a six-point lead with 4:33 remaining.
At the end of regulation, Christian James nailed a 3-pointer from the corner to give Oklahoma an 89-87 lead with 6 seconds remaining, but Jaylen Fisher, who missed a potential game-winning layup at the buzzer in double overtime against Texas on Wednesday, drove for a clean layup to send Saturday’s game to OT.
Fisher scored all eight of the Horned Frogs’ points in overtime and finished with a career-high 22 points and had six rebounds and five assists.
Young, however, always had an answer. Just as he did in the Sooners’ 90-89 win against TCU on Dec. 30, the freshman guard came up big when Oklahoma needed him most. He scored five of the Sooners’ 13 overtime points and had a game-high 11 rebounds and seven assists. Young scored 16 consecutive points for Oklahoma down the stretch. But TCU stuck around and took a surprising 83-77 lead with less than five minutes to go. That’s when Young took over again, scoring the final nine points in regulation for Oklahoma before dishing off to James in the corner for the go-ahead 3-pointer with six seconds remaining.
“We’ve got to guard Young better even though we got nine turnovers out of him,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said.
“We did some things different to try to get the ball out of Young’s hands, other people have tried that too as well, but he’s really good at going back and getting it.”
In fact, for much of the first 35 minutes Saturday afternoon, TCU struggled to answer Oklahoma’s answers.
Each time the Frogs snatched a lead, the Sooners responded with a flurry of baskets to pull back in front.
TCU had the lead and the ball after Kenrich Williams stole an ill-advised pass by Young in the paint wth under 40 seconds in regulation. But Alex Robinson’s layup was blocked by Jamuni McNeace, which set up the Sooners with the ball with 15.9 seconds and James’ go-ahead 3 from the corner. Oklahoma made a team-record 19 3-pointers on 33 attempts. Young made a career-high 10 on 19 attempts from beyond te arc. TCU made 12 of 33 3-point shots.
Even with leading scorers Young and Manek on the bench, the Sooners held a lead for much of the second half.
TCU took 52-51 lead on Fisher’s 3-pointer two minutes into the second half. The lead never lasted, however. Each the Horned Frogs scrapped their way to a lead, the Sooners responded.
The Sooners led 49-47 at the half behind Manek’s 18 points on 6 of 9 shooting. The Frogs were led by Brodziansky who had 14 points at the break.
TCU is now 4-21 all-time against Oklahoma and 0-10 in Norman.
“I’m confident with us leading by six toward the end with them playing good. I’m very excited about our future going forward as we prepare,” Dixon said.
“I think there is a complete confidence [among TCU’s team] because you can see how we came out and responded tonight to falling down and coming back again, so there’s not a doubt in our minds. I am positive without a shadow of a doubt that we are as good as anybody. I think we’re going to show it down the road here.