TCU recorded its most eye-opening victory in a turnaround men’s basketball season Tuesday night by knocking off Oklahoma, a participant in last year’s Final Four, 60-57 in Schollmaier Arena.
Alex Robinson scored a team-high 18 points in helping the Horned Frogs (12-2, 1-1 Big 12) rebound from last week’s 86-80 loss to No. 3 Kansas in the team’s conference opener. By securing the team’s 12th win of the season under first-year coach Jamie Dixon, TCU matched last year’s win total under predecessor Trent Johnson. The Frogs, in their fifth season as a Big 12 member, finally reached the .500 mark in a season during conference play.
TCU opened its first four seasons as a Big 12 member with at least two consecutive league losses and owns a combined mark of 9-65 since joining the Big 12. But victory No. 9 as a Big 12 member proved to be a big one, with the Frogs erasing a nine-point deficit over the final 14:12 to secure the triumph.
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“This is a big win, especially for the four seniors that have been here throughout our time in the Big 12,” said TCU forward Karviar Shepherd, a senior whose pair of free throws with 3:38 remaining gave TCU its first lead of the night, at 56-54. “It just gives us even more confidence because there are no easy games in the Big 12.”
After Shepherd’s free throws put the Frogs ahead, a Robinson jumper and a final jumper by Shepherd, at the 2:03 mark, bumped the lead to 60-54 and the Frogs were able to protect it down the stretch.
TCU leaned heavily on its defense, limiting Oklahoma to a 37.1 percent shooting performance (23-of-62) and recording a season-high 13 blocked shots. Seven of the 10 Frogs who played blocked at least one shot, with forward Vladimir Brodziansky finishing with three to lead the team.
It’s always good to get your first conference win and I like that we did it with our defense. Defense wins championships.
TCU coach Jamie Dixon
Oklahoma (6-7, 0-2) dropped its fifth consecutive game and played for a third consecutive contest without guard Jordan Woodard, who is out with an undisclosed illness. Woodard, a senior, leads the Sooners in scoring (17.6 avg.) and is a fourth-year starter.
The barrage of blocks, said Shepherd (8 points, 5 rebounds), was a testament to quality team defense.
“I think it’s contagious,” Shepherd said of the block party. “When we’re working hard and one guy gets beat, the next guy helps and picks it up. We always help each other. I think we did that tonight.”
TCU carved out a significant early deficit by making just one of its first 12 shots from the field. Oklahoma quickly capitalized, scoring the game’s first five points and building early leads of 12-4 and 17-8 before the Frogs began finding the range.
During one first-half stretch, TCU made 7-of-9 shots and closed within a point, at 29-28, but never took a lead or got the contest tied. Oklahoma headed into halftime holding a 38-34 lead.
I think it’s contagious. When we’re working hard and one guy gets beat, the next guy helps and picks it up. We always help each other.
TCU senior forward Karviar Shepherd
But the Frogs rebounded after intermission, with Robinson (18 points, game-high six assists) leading the charge.
“I don’t think we were all that worried about being down early,” Robinson said. “We hung in there and found a way to come back. I think it’s great.”
Said Dixon: “It’s always good to get your first conference win and I like that we did it with our defense. Defense wins championships.”
On Tuesday night, it played a pivotal role in knocking off Oklahoma.
Jimmy Burch: 817-390-7760, @Jimmy_Burch
OKLAHOMA (6-7): Lattin 3-3 0-1 6, Doolittle 3-6 2-4 8, J.Shepherd 0-4 0-0 0, Odomes 2-8 1-2 5, James 1-10 1-2 3, Buford 1-2 0-0 2, Freeman 4-6 0-0 10, McNeace 1-4 0-0 2, McGusty 4-11 2-2 11, Strong-Moore 4-8 0-0 10. Totals 23-62 6-11 57.
TCU (12-2): Brodziansky 1-2 2-2 4, Miller 1-4 1-2 3, K.Williams 1-3 0-0 2, Robinson 7-13 2-2 18, Fisher 2-7 2-3 6, Washburn 0-1 0-0 0, K.Shepherd 3-3 2-2 8, M.Williams 0-2 0-0 0, Bane 4-7 0-1 9, B.Parrish 2-7 4-6 10. Totals 21-49 13-18 60.
Halftime—Oklahoma 38-34. 3-Point Goals—Oklahoma 5-16 (Freeman 2-3, Strong-Moore 2-5, McGusty 1-3, Buford 0-1, J.Shepherd 0-1, James 0-3), TCU 5-17 (Robinson 2-4, B.Parrish 2-6, Bane 1-1, M.Williams 0-1, Fisher 0-2, Miller 0-3). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Oklahoma 26 (Doolittle 6), TCU 31 (Bane, K.Williams 6). Assists—Oklahoma 13 (J.Shepherd, Odomes, McGusty 3), TCU 11 (Robinson 6). Total Fouls—Oklahoma 17, TCU 12.