FORT WORTH, Texas — The Oklahoma Sooners locked down the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 Tournament by taking care of business at last-place TCU.
Sooners guard Buddy Hield scored 24 points to lead the way as No. 23 Oklahoma stomped the Horned Frogs 97-67 on Saturday at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.
Hield hit a 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer and two more early in the second half, helping Oklahoma (22-8, 12-6 Big 12) establish a 24-point lead with 15:09 left. That helped the Sooners rest their starters late in the second half.
Now, Hield said, Oklahoma’s attention is focused on the postseason.
“We closed the season the way we wanted to,” Hield said. “It was a good team effort. We’re trying to get better because we’re coming down to tournament play now.”
The Sooners, who came into the game tied with Texas for second in the Big 12, claimed second place by themselves as Texas Tech defeated the Longhorns on Saturday. The Big 12 Tournament begins Wednesday in Kansas City.
Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said claiming second place in the Big 12 was a hard-fought prize.
“(The Big 12 is) arguably the toughest league in the country,” Kruger said. “We feel pretty good about that. We’re the No. 2 seed. These guys have worked hard and they’ve earned it. It’s good to be in the mix with those other teams because we know how tough they are.”
Oklahoma finished off TCU’s winless trek through the Big 12 regular season. The Horned Frogs (9-21, 0-18) have won two games in their first two seasons in the Big 12.
TCU coach Trent Johnson said he can see progress in the future for the Horned Frogs despite a difficult season.
“This group has never stopped,” Johnson said. “I struggle because we’re not very good, but they don’t see every day that there’s a reason we’re not very good. We’re not very talented and we’re not very deep. You’re playing people that are really good, that are really talented.”
Hield hit 5 of 8 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 24 points and forward Cameron Clark had 18, as did guard Isaiah Cousins. The Sooners shot 51 percent from the field, made 14 3-pointers and out-rebounded TCU 44-30.
Cousins constantly stirred the Sooners offense adding four assists and three steals to his 18 points.
“Isaiah just continues to make progress as far as looking for others and knocking down shots,” Kruger said. “A lot of our guys have made consistent progress throughout the year.”
TCU senior forward Jarvis Ray led the Horned Frogs with 18 points and guard Kyan Anderson added 17.
“He’s done a really really good job,” Johnson said. “He misses a lot of shots because he tries so hard. He’s done a good job. Unfortunately for him, as good as he’s played, it’s his last year.”
Oklahoma reserve forward Tyler Neal hit a 3-pointer at the 11:29 mark of the first half to cap the Sooners’ 14-3 run that gave them their first double-digit lead at 23-13.
The Sooners threatened to run away in the first half, pushing their lead to 13 points when forward Ryan Spangler scored on an assist from Clark. But TCU pushed back with 3-pointers by forward Brandon Parrish and Anderson.
It took until a surge at the end of the first half for Oklahoma to exert firm control. Cousins hit a 3-pointer with 1:15 left, Clark knocked down a jumper from just outside the lane and Hield nailed a 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer to finish an 8-0 run and give the Sooners a 15-point lead at the break.
Both teams shot well in the first half, but TCU’s 43 percent from the field couldn’t keep up with Oklahoma shooting 57 percent. The Sooners also out-rebounded the Horned Frogs 19-11.
Oklahoma’s balanced scoring showed up in the first half as Hield finished the first 20 minutes with 13 points, Spangler and Clark each had 10 and Cousins scored eight.
NOTES: Oklahoma holds a 14-2 advantage in the series against TCU, but the previous two before Saturday’s game were battles. The Sooners lost at TCU last season, then shook off TCU in the final three minutes for a 77-69 win
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