NORMAN, Okla. — No. 25 Oklahoma (15-4, 4-2 Big 12) relied on its successful shooting down the stretch to outlast TCU 77-69 on Wednesday night in Norman.
"I thought TCU fought like crazy but the last few minutes we had some good stops," said head coach Lon Kruger. "Three minutes ago it was a tight game, but the last four-five positions were solid."
OU led by double digits at four separate times throughout the game but could not quite put the Horned Frogs to bed.
Tied up 66-all with less than four minutes left in the game, the Sooners needed a gut check to secure an important conference win at home.
The team eventually got it from a long shot from its tallest man on the court: forward Ryan Spangler.
With the shot clock expiring and 33 seconds left in the game, Spangler hammered the last dagger into TCU's coffin with a 3-pointer that brought Lloyd Noble Center to its feet and a 10-point lead for the Sooners.
"He's all about team and did a great job keeping balls alive," Kruger said about Spangler's play throughout the game.
The Sooners made the necessary shots to keep TCU on its heels in the second half.
Jordan Woodard hit two free throws, Spangler hit two more, while Je'lon Hornbeak added a layup and two courtesy shots that gave OU a seven point lead with 1:18 left.
Spangler's long shot--assisted by Buddy Hield--finished OU's bout of clutch shooting, a place the Sooners had been dominating throughout the game.
At halftime with a four-point lead, OU as a team was shooting 50 percent from 3-point land, en route to finishing the game with eight tres.
Hield ended as OU's points leader with 16 while Spangler tacked on another double-double to his resume with 13 points and 16 boards.
And even Spangler wasn't satisfied with the way OU had to pull out the win late in the second half.
"We need to work on finishing because we've been giving up leads," Spangler said.
Next up OU faces Texas Tech at 3 p.m. on Jan. 25.
Sights and sounds
There was a steady diet of fans inside the LNC but not staggering numbers; however, the late start, combined with the significant drop in temperatures, didn't scare away too many of the Sooner faithful.
Hield didn't start slapping the floor on defense until midway through the first half. He didn't keep up with it throughout the game like he usually does, but if the Sooners made a good offensive play, he would use that action to sustain momentum.
Hield started mentally getting into players' heads after OU went up by 11 with under six minutes left. When Cameron Clark was shooting free throws, Hield was yelling "Let's go Cam Cam! He'll get two," while talking to TCU's players.
D.J. Bennett had two blocks then a dunk with three minutes left in the first. At that point someone yelled 'Perkins' from the student section.
Junior forward Amric Fields, from Oklahoma City, began to favor his right leg with 1:38 left in the first half. He kept tugging at his brace but asked coach Trent Johnson to put him back in.
TCU had flash cards for their plays. The 'Basic' play led to the steal and Hield's dunk with 16 minutes left in the second half.
Hudson Price was the only player for TCU that I noticed wore purple KD's.
Fields was poked in the eye at the 14:30 mark. Ryan Spangler checked on him to make sure he was all right, but he had a hard time seeing while shooting the free throws. An OU fan kept yelling, "Hey squints!!"
Coach Johnson walked all the way out to talk to the referee for the spin move made by Isaiah Cousins at the 5:39 mark in the second half. "What was that?" It looked like from the sideline that Cousins made a pass to himself to keep the ball from going out of bounds. That play led to the made layup by Hield and gave OU a five-point lead.