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March 8, 2014

OU locks up Big 12's No. 2 seed

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FORT WORTH, Texas -- No. 23 Oklahoma avenged its loss at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum from a year ago and then some on Saturday afternoon.

OU drubbed Texas Christian 97-67 to lock up the No. 2 seed in next week's Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, Mo. The Sooners will face the winner of the game between No. 7 seed Baylor and No. 10 seed TCU at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

"When you consider this is arguably the toughest league in the country, we feel good about that," said OU coach Lon Kruger. "To be in the mix with that group, two through eight or nine based on records, is nice because those are pretty interchangeable.

"There's not much difference among those teams and to be the 2-seed the guys have worked hard, and they've earned it."

Some of the Sooners' shots fell like they came from the artful stroke of All-Big 12 performers, and others found the net like you find money on the sidewalk. Point is, OU was scoring -- and scoring often.

Senior Cameron Clark said it was great to see the ball go in the bucket so much. The Sooners shot 50.7 percent from the floor and 46.7 percent from beyond the arc.

"A lot of guys made big shots," Clark said. "It was good to see Isaiah [Cousins] make shots. Jordan [Woodard] creating and knocking down shots. When we're making shots, we're tough."

TCU finished the season a dismal 0-18 record in conference play and will no doubt look to next year already.

Four Sooners finished in double figures scoring. Cousins scored 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting with five rebounds.

Clark scored 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting with five boards, and sophomore Ryan Spangler scored 10 points and grabbed six boards.

The OU bench outscored the TCU bench 25-14 and were led by sophomore Je'lon Hornbeak. He scored eight points, pulled down six boards and dropped four dimes.

But it was sophomore Buddy Hield who led the way. He scored 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting, pulled down eight boards, dropped four dimes and recorded two steals.

"I'm glad we got to close the season how we wanted to against a tough TCU team," Hield said. "Coach Kruger did a good job preparing us for this game."

The Sooners started fast in the first half and came down with missed shots more often than not.

Oklahoma outrebounded the Horned Frogs in the first half 19-11, though both teams attempted 30 shots. The Sooners finished with 44 rebounds to TCU's 30.

The Sooners were a perfect 13-for-13 from the line, and three of them finished the half with at least 10 points and three boards.

Hield led them with 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting and five boards in the first half. Six of his points were 3-pointers, and the Sooners combined to make 6-of-12 from beyond the arc in the half.

Of the nine Sooners who played during the first half, only Hornbeak went scoreless while TCU committed twice as many turnovers (6) as it dished assists (3).

Oklahoma led TCU 50-38 at halftime and buried the Horned Frogs once the second half of play began. The Sooners led by as many as 37 with 3:47 left to play.

Last season, a loss to TCU began a three-game losing skid to end the season. Kruger's team knew that, and showed focus this time around. He's hoping that focus will hold into postseason competition.

"They know how tough it is in the journey that's ahead, and looking forward with excitement about preparing for that," he said.

The Sooners have already amassed three more wins that they did all of last season. Hield said this season feels different.

"We can't relax. We can't hold our heads up too high. We're still hungry, and we've still got something to prove to everybody."



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