NORMAN (AP) – Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger had seen his young team falter numerous times late in games this season on their way to the worst season in his six years with the Sooners. This time, he watched his yearlings deliver in the clutch on their way to a 73-68 win over TCU that helped them avoid a last-place finish in the Big 12.
Freshman Kameron McGusty tied his career high 22 with points, Kristian Doolittle added 19 points and 13 rebounds, and the pair teamed with fellow freshman Jordan Shepherd to connect on seven straight free throws in the final minute to hold off the Horned Frogs.
For the always-positive Kruger, he knew that the effort his team had put in all season would pay off and he was glad it happened in the final home game of the season.
"Very happy for them, because they've worked hard all year long," said Kruger. "People appreciate how hard our guys have worked and competed despite not winning a lot of games. And the guys have done that. That's why they're playing their best basketball here in the last three weeks."
McGusty had given the Sooners (11-19, 5-13) a 66-63 lead on a driving layup with 1:12 remaining and then watched TCU's Kenrich Williams tie the game with a 3-point shot on the Frogs next possession. That's when the OU free throw parade started, as the Horned Frogs missed three of their last four shots and had to foul to stop the clock.
TCU (17-14, 6-12) lost for the seventh straight time. Williams and Vladamir Brodziansky scored 17 points apiece, with Williams adding 13 boards. The Horned Frogs went 4 of 9 the foul line, including misses on the front end of three 1-and-1 opportunities, while the Sooners were 17 of 22.
"We just have to finish it out, finish a play and not put people at the foul line," said first-year TCU coach Jamie Dixon. "We need to make one of those shots down the stretch, but really this one came down to missing those free throws."
The Sooners have a 10-0 record against TCU in Norman and has won 11 of the last 13 meetings overall.
In addition to the freshman heroics, junior centre Khadeem Lattin contributed 10 rebounds and five blocked shots to disrupt the Horned Frogs offence.
Season-long starter Rashard Odomes, Oklahoma's third leading score at 10.3 per game, missed the contest with back spasms. Odomes was in uniform and appeared to want to play, but Kruger said he wasn't ready after missing two practices this week. Odomes is expected to return for Wednesday's game in Kansas City.
Up next, it will be a rematch between these two teams Wednesday night in the opening round of the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City.