TCU’s recent momentum spent more than seven hours on rails Friday night and into Saturday morning, and the strange train trip stopped just short of an upset.
Buddy Hield had 21 points and a career-high 13 rebounds to help No. 16 Oklahoma rally past the Horned Frogs 67-60 on Saturday.
TCU led by as many as 12 points in the first half and by eight, 36-28, at halftime. Despite OU’s rally, the Horned Frogs trailed only 60-58 after Trey Zeigler’s driving basket with a little more than a minute left.
The Sooners made 6 of 6 free throws in the final 1:21 to retain control.
The Horned Frogs arrived by train in Norman at 1 a.m. Saturday after the bus company scheduled to take them wouldn’t make the trip because of weather. The game had an early start time: 1 p.m. It couldn’t be moved back because the OU women played Kansas on Saturday night.
TCU boarded the Heartland Flyer in downtown Fort Worth around 5:30 p.m. Friday.
Big12sports.com reported that engine trouble with a train on the track ahead of TCU’s train would more than double the duration of the normal 3-1/2-hour trip.
Despite all that, the Frogs jumped to a 36-24 lead with 2:22 left in the first half.
“I thought we played well. I thought we played extremely hard,” TCU coach Trent Johnson said after the Frogs’ sixth straight road loss. “Until the last four minutes, I thought we were in position to win the game and then they did a good job getting to the free-throw line and we didn’t. So tip your hat to them.
“I thought our kids showed great courage. This is probably the fifth game that we played pretty well [and lost]. Kansas was a tough loss. This is a tough loss.”
Sooners coach Lon Krueger thought the Frogs “played great.”
Starting the game, “I thought TCU had more spring than we did, and we never want that,” he said. “TCU has been gaining momentum and gaining confidence. I think our guys realized, obviously, at halftime that we had to outmatch their energy.”
Hield, the Big 12’s leading scorer, made 6 of 11 shots, including 3 of 6 3-pointers.
TaShawn Thomas had 15 points and eight rebounds and Ryan Spangler and Isaiah Cousins each added 10 points for the Sooners (20-8, 11-5 Big 12), who have won eight of nine to remain in strong position to claim at least a share of the conference title.
Kyan Anderson and Ziegler each scored 16 points for TCU (17-12, 4-12), which had won three of four.
Oklahoma trailed most of the second half before Thomas’ layup broke the last tie to put the Sooners up 58-56. Thomas followed it up with a dunk on Oklahoma’s next possession to push the lead to four.
Anderson scored 11 points in the first half and made 3 of 5 3-pointers. TCU had seven offensive rebounds and 10 second-chance points in the first 20 minutes.
Oklahoma pushed the pace early in the second half and went on a 12-6 run to trim TCU’s lead to 42-40. The Sooners tied the game at 48 on a 3-pointer by Hield with just under 11 minutes to play, setting up the tight finish.
▪ TCU: Amric Fields, a senior from nearby Oklahoma City, had five points and five rebounds. … TCU committed just four turnovers in the first half.
▪ Oklahoma: Forwards Thomas and Spangler each played the last part of the first half with two fouls, but Spangler committed just one the rest of the way, and Thomas didn’t commit any. … Oklahoma’s bench scored just three points. … The Sooners made just 18 of 27 free throws.