Oklahoma controls its destiny in its bid to earn at least a share of the Big 12 regular-season title, though it’ll have to be cautious not to overlook another one of the league’s bottom feeders.
After escaping at last-place Texas Tech, No. 16 Oklahoma will try to be a bit more focused as it goes after a 16th win in 17 home games Saturday against improving TCU.
The Sooners face a tough challenge as they try to claim their first conference crown since sharing it with Kansas in 2004-05, needing victories over the Horned Frogs, No. 12 Iowa State on Monday and No. 8 Kansas next Saturday.
If the 10-time defending champion Jayhawks drop one of their last two home games, Oklahoma (19-8, 10-5) could be in position to take the title outright with a win over visiting Kansas in the finale.
The Sooners nearly blew their chance to make a championship run last Saturday when they failed to preserve a six-point advantage with 1:40 left in regulation before surviving with a 79-75 overtime win against the Red Raiders.
Isaiah Cousins scored a season-high 22, Frank Booker added a career-high 17 and Buddy Hield hit a pair of late 3-pointers to help Oklahoma pull out its seventh victory in eight games.
”We didn’t think (Texas Tech) was going to fight,” said Cousins, who had 12 points on 4-of-18 shooting over his previous two games. "That’s on our part.”
The Sooners aren’t likely to make the same mistake as they return home seeking their 16th win in 18 all-time meetings with TCU (17-11, 4-11). They’ve won the seven matchups in Norman by an average of 25.7 points.
Ryan Spangler led the way with 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting, while Hield contributed 16 points and 10 rebounds in a 68-56 victory in Fort Worth on Feb. 7. Spangler, however, has averaged 6.3 points in his last three games.
Hield, the Big 12 leader with 16.9 points per game, also looks to regroup after finishing with eight on 3-of-12 shooting last weekend. He’s scored a combined 40 with 18 rebounds and seven 3s in his last two against TCU.
"He’ll bounce back and do well," coach Lon Kruger said.
Kruger would like to see his squad get back on track defensively after it allowed a season-high 59.1 field-goal percentage to a Texas Tech team that came in with a league-worst 39.4 mark.
The Sooners held TCU to 31.5 percent in the first meeting and have limited opponents to 36.2 while posting a plus-19.4 scoring margin in winning 12 of 13 at home this season.
The Horned Frogs have dropped five straight on the road, but they’re 3-1 overall since losing a season-high seven in a row. Kyan Anderson had 17 points and Trey Zeigler scored 15 in Wednesday’s 71-54 win over Texas Tech.
”The last few games, we’ve really come out and played hard,” said Kenrich Williams, who added a season-high 16 rebounds. "It’s almost over, Big 12 is almost over, we’ve got to start winning games."
Anderson leads the Horned Frogs with 13.1 points per game, while Ziegler has totaled 35 in his last two. They combined for 12 on 4-of-17 shooting in the first meeting with Oklahoma.
TCU has dropped its last 30 road games against ranked opponents.