The performance Saturday in No. 12 Oklahoma’s 90-89 win over No. 10 TCU by freshman guard Trae Young will likely be a huge part of the curriculum vitae he compiles during his stint with the Sooners — 39 points, 14 assists, game-winning free throws, and all that.
But what the history books also need to note is the contribution from the Sooners in a supporting role – namely Kameron McGusty and Brady Manek, guys that made a difference down the stretch of a tight game on the road against the previously unbeaten Horned Frogs.
Young’s 39-point performance included a pair of free throws with 7.9 seconds remaining that provided the winning margin, as Oklahoma rallied from a 13-point, second-half deficit to stun TCU at Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, in the Big 12 Conference opener for both teams.
The victory was the ninth straight for the Sooners (11-1, 1-0 Big 12) and snapped TCU’s nation-leading 17-game winning streak that dated to last season’s five-game run to the NIT championship.
Oklahoma matched its win total from last season with its 11th victory in 12 games.
Vlad Brodziansky’s layup off an inbounds pass from Kenrich Williams gave TCU an 87-85 lead with 44 seconds remaining, but the Sooners responded with McGusty’s 3-pointer with 31 seconds to play to take an 88-87 advantage.
“As soon as it left my hand it felt like a green bean on 2K,” McGusty said. “I knew it was money.”
The Horned Frogs were out of timeouts but found Williams for a short jumper that allowed TCU to leapfrog back to an 89-88 lead.
Young then drove hard to the rim, was fouled and made both free throws to push the Sooners in front with 7.9 seconds left. Williams’ wild 3-point attempt with 5.1 seconds remaining was never close and McGusty corralled the rebound to secure the win for Oklahoma.
“We contested that final shot decently, but Williams is still capable of making it,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said afterward. “The hand on the ball was a good contest. At least made it a tougher shot for him.”
Young, a freshman from Norman, Okla., added 14 assists for the Sooners while McGusty scored 22 points off the bench (15 of those in the second half), Christian James added 10 points and Manek grabbed 13 rebounds — all on the defensive end — for Oklahoma.
“Young shooting 9 of 23 we can live with, but 18 free throws can’t happen, or the 14 assists,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. “Obviously he’s good — it’s no secret. Lon Kruger can coach, and he puts him in the right spot.”
Williams led TCU (12-1, 0-1) with 22 points. Ahmed Hamdy-Mohamed and Desmond Bane added 15 each for the Horned Frogs while Kouat Noi scored 14 points and Brodziansky hit for 12.
“We’ve got to get better defensively — I’ve been saying it and saying it and saying it,” Dixon added. “The 12 wins (to start the season) kind of hid that. It’s on us. We’ve got to make improvements. We can, we have and we will. But it’s got to be at another level.”
Oklahoma scored the game’s first 11 points but TCU responded and tied the game at 36 with 3:27 to play in the first half. The Horned Frogs scored the final five points of the first half to forge a 46-41 lead at halftime and then extended their run with a 5-0 spurt to begin the second half.
Williams, returning to the court after missing the Horned Frogs’ last game with knee discomfort, led TCU with 15 points in the first half. Noi added 11 points off the bench for the Horned Frogs on 4-of-6 shooting.
Young led all scorers in the first half with 19 points, with four of his five made shots coming from behind the 3-point arc.
TCU expanded its lead to 69-57 on a jumper by Brodziansky with 9:53 to play but Young shot and passed the Sooners back into the game, as a McGusty layup off a Young assist cut the advantage to 77-76 with 5:40 to play.
“We’ve got to learn how to finish,” Williams said. “When we’ve got the lead, we’ve got to learn how to hold the lead until the end of the game. We’re going to take care of it. It is what it is. We’re just going to move on from this game.”