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Oklahoma Sooners Basketball: Kristian Doolittle, Sooners hold off TCU, 76-74

Kristian Doolittle’s second-half heroics helped lift OU to a huge home win.

NCAA Basketball: Kansas at Oklahoma Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

What an instant classic this one was.

The Oklahoma Sooners scratched and clawed for an epic 76-74 victory over a dangerous TCU team, and Kristian Doolittle was the absolute truth. OU improved to 13-3 on the season, and 2-2 in Big 12 play.

The player of the game was of course Doolittle, who turned in a season-high 24 points along with 10 rebounds, two steals and the game-winner.

It’s been a long time coming, but over the last month, the junior forward is finally resembling the kind of player Sooner fans envisioned him becoming following his promising freshman campaign.

Four Sooners scored at least 12 points, and five combined for a season-high nine blocks. This game was a great showcase of the team basketball this group plays.

Both Oklahoma and TCU came out of the gates with a lot of energy on both ends of the court. It was a back and forth affair for the majority of the first half, until the Horned Frogs put together a quick 13-0 run to create a bit of separation. Jamie Dixon’s squad led Lon Kruger’s by as many as nine before Calixte closed the gap with back-to-back threes. The Sooners trailed 43-37 at intermission, but the biggest difference was reflected on the boards, where TCU held a +16 rebound advantage.

In the second half, the Sooners made a concerted effort to turn up the defensive intensity, resulting in a 7-1 start to the half to erase the six-point halftime deficit. From there, the two well-coached teams battled back and forth in grinding slugfest. TCU’s Kouat Noi finished with an eye-popping 30 points off the bench, including eight makes from beyond the arc, but ultimately his career performance was not enough to combat Oklahoma’s arsenal of weapons.

Down the stretch, Doolittle, Christian James and Brady Manek all came up with clutch plays to carry the Sooners to victory. Speaking of which, check out this monstrous slam from Larry from the Prairie.

The return of Jamuni McNeace into the starting lineup is a great sign going forward for Oklahoma. He finished the game with six points, six rebounds and two blocks, but his overall defensive presence is something that cannot be fully measured by box score statistics. As he continues to return to form, the Sooners will continue to prove to be a formidable threat in the conference race.

Up next, Oklahoma hosts Kansas State (12-4, 2-2) at the LNC on Wednesday, January 16th. The Wildcats were picked to finish second behind KU in the Big 12 preseason poll, but have been hot and cold through four conference contests. The home team has won each of the past seven meetings in this series, and with OU sitting pretty at 5-0 in Norman, the Sooners should have a decided home court advantage.

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