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Oklahoma Basketball: Sooners topple TCU, snap five-game skid

Kristian Doolittle was magnificent as he scored 21, grabbed 10 rebounds and recorded five assists.

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Fans can breath a small sigh of relief, as the Oklahoma Sooners have snapped a five-game losing streak with a 71-62 win over the TCU Horned Frogs. With the victory, OU improves to 16-10 on the year and 4-9 in Big 12 play.

Dating back to the 2016-17 season, Lon Kruger’s teams are just 2-12 in their last 14 games played in the month of February, and that’s including Saturday’s victory over the Frogs. This game was also the first road win for Oklahoma since Jan. 23 in Stillwater. Needless to say, these Sooners will need to notch at least a few more improbable W’s if a berth in the Big Dance is to be in their future. Entering the day, OU was on the “Last Four In” line with both ESPN and CBS, and today’s win at least keeps them from falling out of that.

Last time Oklahoma and TCU met, Kristian Doolittle played the role of Horned Frog slayer, taking over in the second half and winning the game with a bucket in the final seconds. On Saturday, the junior forward once again led all Sooners with 21 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Christian James and Brady Manek also had solid offensive days, scoring 14 points apiece and combining for four three-pointers.

It might sound like a broken record by now, but the Sooners got off to yet another sluggish start on the offensive end to open the game. Nearly six minutes into the contest, Oklahoma had only mustered four points, and the flow was about as lethargic as it can get. Suddenly, Christian James provided a spark for his team with a quick pair of scores, and Kristian Doolittle eventually found his groove in all phases of his game, leading the team with nine points, five rebounds and four assists at the break. OU got up by as much as seven, but a pair of sloppy possessions late in the half allowed TCU to stifle the momentum as the Sooners took a 32-30 lead into the locker room.

In the second half, freshman Jamal Bieniemy, sophomore Brady Manek and the veteran James started things off on the right foot with a trio of three-pointers out of the gate. While the team had finally found a rhythm on offense, it was the improved play on the defensive end of the court that made the real difference in this one. Oklahoma saw its lead swell to as much as 11, and while TCU never stopped playing hard, the Sooners methodically kept the Horned Frogs’ comeback efforts at bay for the remainder of the day.

Up next, Oklahoma returns to the Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday, Feb. 23 to take on arch-rival Texas for Part 2 of this season’s Red River series. In the first meeting, the Sooners found themselves on the short end of a heartbreaking 75-72 contest in Austin. As with every game at this point and going forward, a win over the Longhorns is crucial if OU plans on salvaging the season. The game tips off at 11 a.m. CT on ESPNU.

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