FORT WORTH, Texas — A year after limping into the Big 12 Tournament with an embarrassing loss to struggling TCU, Oklahoma made up for it.
The No. 23 Sooners clinched the No. 2 seed in next week’s tournament with a dominating 97-67 win over the Horned Frogs in front of 4,878 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum on Saturday.
Oklahoma has now three in a row and five of six.
“The guys have good focus now,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. “They’ve made good progress consistently throughout, and the last three weeks especially. They’re probably playing their best basketball and shooting it well and improving defensively. They know how tough the journey is ahead and they’re looking forward with excitement to prepare for that.”
Oklahoma (23-8, 12-6 Big 12) will face the winner of the Baylor-TCU game at 6 p.m. Thursday at Kansas City’s Sprint Center.
In the regular-season finale here a year ago, the Horned Frogs jumped out to a 22-point halftime lead and held on for a three-point win for just their second Big 12 win of the season.
But Oklahoma wasn’t about to let TCU (9-21, 0-18) get its first league win of the season.
“It does feel different,” Buddy Hield said, comparing entering the tournament this year to last. “We can’t relax. We can’t get our heads up too high. We’re still hungry. We’ve still go something to prove to everybody.”
The Sooners dominated the Horned Frogs by sharing the ball. Oklahoma had 25 assists, its most since Dec. 16, 2006, when the Sooners had 27 against UT-Arlington.
Jordan Woodard had six assists, while Isaiah Cousins, Hield and Je’lon Hornbeak had four each.
“Coach Kruger tells us to stay together as a group and keep sharing the basketball,” Hield said. “The guards are trying to get that motion flowing. Cam (Clark) is making shots, Ryan (Spangler) is rebounding for us. It’s a great team effort.”
It wasn’t long ago that Clark, the Sooners‘ leading scorer for much of the season, was in a scoring slump.
But he’s turned back into the dangerous shooter that he was early in the season. Saturday, he scored 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting. Clark has scored at least 18 in three of the last four games.
“They’re creating open looks for me,” Clark said. “I’m able to knock down shots. We’ve got a lot of guys who can shoot it. It spreads the floor and I’m just able to get to my spots and knock them down.”
Clark started off quick, hitting a pair of shots in the first two minutes, including a long jumper that has become a regular in Clark’s arsenal.
The Sooners took the lead for good less than five minutes in and steadily expanded their lead for much of the game, leading by as many as 37.
Hield led OU with 24 points, hitting 8 of 11 from the field, including five 3-pointers. Cousins added 18 and Spangler 10. All of Spangler’s points came in the first half.
Jarvis Ray led TCU with 18 points.