OU bounces back in blowout win vs. TCU
After dropping back-to-back games and playing without two key contributors for the second game in a row, it was hard to have an idea of how Oklahoma was going to respond.
The Sooners sent as positive a message as possible in absolutely dominating visiting TCU 82-46 on Tuesday night to improve to 7-3 overall and back to .500 at 3-3 in the Big 12.
No surprises this time as OU knew it would be without senior Brady Manek and sophomore Jalen Hill because of COVID-19 protocols. Missing some offensive firepower, but the Sooners turned it up on the other end of the floor to get things going.
OU forced 16 turnovers compared to just five for the Sooners. Maybe more importantly, Lon Kruger’s group was able to convert that into 25 points, and defense led to offense routinely on this night at Lloyd Noble Center.
“The guys are focused. Guys have made progress pretty consistently, starting to do a better job,” Kruger said. “Always been pretty sound defensively but haven’t always guarded the three really well. I think we’ve added to that, in terms of getting to the ball and getting to the shooters and staying connected to them.
“Created turnovers and converted those on the other end. We’ve had several of those opportunities in each of the last few ballgames. Need to keep doing that, for sure.”
If ever there has been a coach not fazed at all by what COVID-19 can do to a lineup, it’s Kruger. He has been ready for the changes since the preseason. Tuesday brought another wrinkle as Elijah Harkless picked up two quick fouls, forcing De’Vion Harmon to play the power forward spot.
Went as well as it could as Harmon was up to the task and then some with 22 points and six rebounds and four assists.
“I think it's vital,” Harmon said. “I think I played, not just me, any player becomes more versatile and more dangerous when they can play more than one position or two positions on the floor. I played the 1, 2, 3 and 4 today.
“We played a lot of small ball, which was good. It's really good for us at times. We can play fast, especially against bigger teams. I just did what Coach Kruger wanted me to do. That was come in. He told me I was going to be the 2, 1, 3 or 4.”
OU led 34-22 at halftime and stretched the lead in a huge way, opening the second half on an 18-3 run to put it out of reach.
Austin Reaves had 11 points and seven assists, as OU tied a season-high with 20 assists.
“Any time you can force 16 and only turn over five, that’s like a head start of 11 extra possessions in a ballgame,” Kruger said. “You’ll take that anytime. Guys are moving the ball better. I think taking good care of the basketball, move the ball, make good cuts, results in good shots, results in baskets, results in assists. Everything ties in together.”
*Another 3-point connect for Kur Kuath. That’s back-to-back games for him from long distance. He finished with nine points and seven rebounds.
*Getting help from everybody. Umoja Gibson scored eight of his 11 points in the first half. In the second half, it was Alondes Williams. He finished with 10 points, six rebounds and two steals. Both of the steals were turned into Williams dunks.
*The 36-point win is the biggest margin of victory for OU in conference play since 2015.
*It’s time for Bedlam. Oklahoma State just knocked off Kansas, and now the Sooners come to town. The first edition is 7 p.m. Saturday night at Gallagher Iba-Arena.