Spangler helps No. 25 Oklahoma hold off TCU, 77-69
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger is more concerned with results than how his team looks.
Good thing, because there was nothing pretty about the No. 25 Sooners’ 77-69 win over Texas Christian on Wednesday night.
The Horned Frogs, winless in the Big 12, were tied with the Sooners late before Oklahoma held the Horned Frogs without a field goal for the final 3:46.
”Three-and-a-half minutes to go, it’s a tie ballgame, and at that point, you’ve just got to lock in there,” Kruger said. ”Don’t feel bad about where you’re at, but feel like it’s an opportunity to win a ballgame. I thought the last four or five possessions on each end were pretty solid.”
Ryan Spangler scored all 13 of his points in the second half and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds. The 6-foot-8 forward leads the conference in rebounding, and his tough interior play has complemented Oklahoma’s explosive perimeter players well.
”He’s been terrific,” Kruger said. ”He’s all about team. He kept some balls alive in addition to the 16 that he got. He’s been like that. He’s just been fantastic every night out.”
Buddy Hield had 16 points and Cameron Clark added 15 for the Sooners (15-4, 4-2 Big 12), who moved into a tie for second place in the Big 12 despite struggling against the last-place team in the league.
It was a missed opportunity for the Horned Frogs, who played one of their best games of the season. Kyan Anderson scored 23 points, Amric Fields scored 15 and Karviar Shepherd added 12 points and 11 rebounds for TCU (9-9, 0-6).
”We’re a lot better team than we’ve shown previously in five league games,” TCU coach Trent Johnson said. ”Hopefully, this will give us some confidence.”
Spangler said the Horned Frogs were tough and executed their game plan well. TCU, the lowest-scoring team in the conference, slowed most of the game down to a crawl against a team that entered the game averaging 85 points.
”We couldn’t get in rhythm, but I give credit to them,” Spangler said. ”We couldn’t run our stuff as good as we usually do. They kept us from pushing it out. They slowed the game down how they wanted it to.”
Kruger said the Sooners might not have been focused. The Horned Frogs had lost their previous four conference games by an average of 22 points.
”That’s there in sports,” he said. ”With their record, our guys are going to hear it. They talk about it. Nothing intentional about it by any means, but there’s that human nature element you have to fight off.”
The Sooners struggled to score for much of the night, but made up for it by playing one of their best defensive games. Oklahoma held TCU to 43 percent shooting and forced 16 turnovers.
Texas Christian trailed 43-42 in the opening minutes of the second half before Isaiah Cousins made a jumper, then a steal by Clark led to a dunk by Hield to give Oklahoma a 47-42 lead. TCU scored the next five points to tie the score at 47 with about 13 minutes to play.
Spangler made his first basket of the game, was fouled and made the free throw to give Oklahoma the lead again. A 3-pointer by Clark pushed Oklahoma’s advantage to 57-49 with just under 11 minutes remaining. A steal and layup by Clark bumped the Sooners’ lead to 10.
Fields made a 3-pointer, then Oklahoma turned the ball over and Anderson hit a 3 to trim OU’s lead to 59-55. Fields tied the score at 66 on a layup, but the Sooners dominated the rest of the way. Spangler hit a 3-pointer with 33 seconds remaining, just his third of the season, to give the Sooners a 77-67 lead.
”Really tough game,” Kruger said. ”I thought TCU really fought like crazy. We’d get a little bit of a margin and they’d pull right back into it. We couldn’t ever really put them away.”
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