Oklahoma crushes TCU for Big 12 sweep

Behind a suffocating defense, Sooners sweep Horned Frogs emphatically despite missing Brady Manek and Jalen Hill again
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NORMAN — The Oklahoma Sooners competed the season sweep of the TCU Horned Frogs Tuesday evening, strolling to an 82-46 victory at Lloyd Noble Center.

After starting 0-for-5 from the field, Lon Kruger’s Sooners went on a 10-0 run to take the lead and cruised to their biggest win of the season.

"I thought from the start the guys were pretty focused defensively," Kruger said after the game. "Thought it was really connected together and aggressive in a lot of ways."

Leading with their defense yet again, OU held TCU to 0-for-8 from deep in the first half, helping to build a 12-point lead at the intermission which would prove insurmountable. OU converted defense into easy offense, cashing seven first-half turnovers into 12 points.

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For the evening, the Sooners held TCU to just 35 percent shooting (18-of-52) and 21 percent (4-of-19) from deep.

"The guys have made progress pretty consistently," Kruger said of his defense. "We've always been fairly sound defensively, but just hadn't always guarded the 3 really well, and I think we've added that."

Kruger’s squad poured it on from deep too, hitting 12-of-27 3-pointers.

Elijah Harkless

Elijah Harkless

The Sooners didn’t relent in the second half, steamrolling to a 16-2 run out of the break to ice the game with plenty of time to spare.

"That's the second half we needed," sophomore guard De'Vion Harmon said. "Against West Virginia, last time we were here, we let them come all the way back. I think we were up 17 or 18 and let them crawl all the way back and they took the lead. So the way we closed out the game, it was good. But we know we can be so much better."

The difference between the starts of each half can be chalked up to simply missing some open looks, which happens from time to time, Kruger said. 

"Sometimes it's just missing a couple of open shots. Other times, you're not moving [the ball] as well as you need to," Kruger said. "Tonight was a case of just making shots we had in the second half."

With Brady Manek and Jalen Hill missing their second straight games due to COVID-19 protocol, the guards stole the show for Oklahoma.

Filling in at the power forward, Elijah Harkless picked up two fouls early, forcing Harmon to slide over and play essentially all positions except center against TCU.

"De'Vion was great. I thought he handled every role tonight in a great way," Kruger said. "He played the wing, he played the power forward spot, he played the point. So, he made good plays from all three positions."

De'Vion Harmon

De'Vion Harmon

Despite moving all over the floor, Harmon still led the way for the Sooners, scoring 10 first-half points to help build OU's early lead. Finishing with 19 points, six rebounds and four assists, the Denton, TX product finished just four points shy of matching his career high — a mark he set in his first game as a Sooner. 

"Any player becomes even more versatile and more dangerous when they can play more than, you know, one position or two positions on the floor," Harmon said. 

Austin Reaves had a relatively quiet night for his standards against the Horned Frogs. Following back-to-back 30+ point performances against TCU, Reaves finished with a solid 11 points, three rebounds and seven assists.

Umoja Gibson got back to his scoring ways in OU's return home. Gibson tallied 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting, firing in 3-of-6 shots from deep. 

In all, the Sooners played efficient on the offensive end of the floor. Only committing five turnovers, Oklahoma shot 47 percent from the field, ending their two-game skid.

Oklahoma will now set its sights on in-state rival Oklahoma State as 2021’s first Bedlam matchup awaits on Saturday.

"They have a really good team at OSU, so we got to get ready for them," Harmon said. "It's gonna be a big test, a big game. We know what the stakes hold. It's Bedlam."

Tipoff against the Cowboys from Gallagher-Iba Arena is scheduled for 7 p.m. on ESPN2.