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January 23, 2014

Spangler records league leading eighth double-double

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The score was tied at 66-66, and there was just 3:33 left to play when No. 25 Oklahoma came out of its timeout.

The Sooners had squandered a 10-point lead they'd established only 10 minutes earlier and allowed a feisty Texas Christian team to remain in a game many thought they'd lose by double digits.

SCOOPHD: SOONERS SURVIVE FROGS UPSET BID, ESCAPE 77-69

video by Eddie Radosevich

But there they were.

It was clear the Horned Frogs weren't going to give the Sooners this game, despite being winless Big 12 play. OU was going to have to take it.

"At that point," said OU coach Lon Kruger, "you've just got to lock in there, and don't feel bad about where you're at. Feel like it's an opportunity to win a ball game."

In closing time -- those last three minutes, 33 seconds of the game -- the Sooners outscored TCU 11-3 and looked like a top 25 program playing against the league's cellar dweller 77-69 on Wednesday night.

Oklahoma hit 47 percent of its shots from the floor and had five players scored double figures, but OU's lackadaisical defense and penchant for turnovers kept TCU in the game.

If not for sophomore guard Ryan Spangler took ownership of the glass from tip-off to buzzer, the scoreboard might've read differently. Spangler, who scored 13 points in the game, was responsible for 16 of OU's 36 rebounds.

"Spangler's special just in terms of the little things he does that are big things that win games," said TCU coach Trent Johnson.

Johnson thought his team played the best it has since league play began against OU. For long stretches of the game, TCU's best looked good enough to win.

Through the first half, the Sooners did just enough stay in front of the Horned Frogs. They shot 43 percent from the floor and hit 6-of-12 shots from beyond the arc during that time.

When the Sooners earned their way to the charity stripe in the first half, they made the most of it. OU was a perfect 8-for-8 from the line for the half, 17-of-21 from the line for the game.

Six Sooners scored four or more points in the first half, and senior Cameron Clark led them all with 10. Clark ended up with 15 points on 4-of-13 shooting.

Sophomore Buddy Hield notched a team-high 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting. He also contributed a game-high five assists.

Sophomore Isaiah Cousins gave OU an early spark with five points in the first six minutes of the game and finished with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting.

Spangler did the most to give OU its 40-36 lead heading into the locker room, and he did it without scoring a single point. He did his work where he has all season long for the Sooners -- in the paint and around the glass.

He grabbed 11 boards in 15 minutes on the court in the first half. At one point, he had as many boards as the entire TCU team.

In a game where true freshman point guard just two points and one assists, sophomore Je'lon Hornbeak picked him and the Sooners up when the game was still in the balance.

Hornbeak hit 4-of-5 shots and scored 10 points while dropping two dimes and picking up two steals off the bench. He outscored the TCU bench by himself 10-4.

"I knew my time would come," he said.

It was Hornbeak's first game in double figures since Nov. 13, 2013. In his last five games, he'd scored just six points.

Oklahoma hasn't played a game decided by seven points or fewer since Dec. 21, 2013, and only twice has it scored 85 points or more during conference play. Heading into the game against TCU, the Sooners averaged nearly 85 a game.

"I guess we're getting better at playing in tight games," Spangler said. "But we wouldn't want it like that."

The strength of the team -- scoring -- has dipped since the New Year. The Sooners are winning more than they lose, but they haven't been at their best since defeating Iowa State at home 11 days ago.

In conference play, teams have to win on nights where their best isn't on display, and the Sooners have. But that can't last for the next six weeks in a deep Big 12 Conference.



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