In March, the purple-clad crowd at Schollmaier Arena was shocked into silence as Austin Reaves led OU to a 20-point second-half comeback and sealed the game with a step-back, fadeaway jumper. In December, a different Austin Reaves rolled into Ft. Worth, leading the Oklahoma Sooners to an 82-78 win over the TCU Horned Frogs, this time serving as an offensive creator.
The senior from Newark, Ark. finished with 32 points on 7/16 shooting while making 16 of 18 free throw attempts. Due to Reaves’ ability to create off the dribble, OU’s half-court offense never really felt stagnant, which allowed the Sooners to earn clutch buckets against a quality defensive squad. His ability to create and facilitate also led to nine assists and made things substantially easier for his teammates. However, when OU needed him to step up and hit shots of his own, he did just that.
Brady Manek had himself a decent outing as well, and while he only connected on one of his four three-point attempts, he showed off an element of his game that has drastically improved — his ability to force the issue in the paint. Prairie Bird regularly called for the ball in the paint and was able to make TCU pay with some nice post moves. He finished the day with 14 points, six board and a pair of blocks.
For the second straight game, De’Vion Harmon proved to be a big-time contributor off the bench, scoring 13 points on 6/9 shooting. The sophomore from Denton, Texas came out of John H. Guyer High School as a prized recruit, and for him to be willing to play a reserve role to help this team shows a lot about his character.
As a team, the Sooners shot 51.9 percent from the field and had 17 assists while only turning it over eight times. TCU came into the game as one of the better defensive squads in the country, so this was an encouraging sign. What was also encouraging was the fact that the half-court offense was able to be so efficient without doing particularly well from beyond the arc. Those buckets will fall at a higher clip in the future, and it spells trouble for opposing teams.