Even shorthanded, the Sooner men appear to have turned the page on their season in the best possible way.
Three games ago, holding back then-No. 9 West Virginia, a corner appeared turned. However, one game later, at second-ranked Baylor, the Sooners went backward, their feet heavy, their chances non-existent.
Yet, facing TCU without the services of Brady Manek and Jalen Hill for a second straight game, Oklahoma was terrific for a second straight game.
Terrific wasn’t quite enough to upset No. 6 Kansas three days earlier in Lawrence, but it was more than enough to smoke the Horned Frogs 82-46 Tuesday night inside Lloyd Noble Center.
The Sooners (7-4, 3-3 Big 12) will walk into Bedlam Saturday night in Stillwater quite possibly playing their best basketball of the season.
“Everybody was connected together,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “[We were] aggressive in a lot of ways. A lot of guys making plays for each other.”
The Sooners weren’t very good at the very start, when it took 3:17 for their first basket to fall, a 3-pointer from Umoja Gibson, who began the game on the bench.
Nor were they great for a few minutes in the second half, when what had become a 27-point advantage, 52-25, became an 18-point advantage, 60-42.
Yet, beyond that, they were golden, even to the very end.
When the last field goal went down — seldom used Keller Casey following his own miss in the paint — OU’s bench erupted.
Clearly, teammates were enjoying watching teammates have success.
The Horned Frogs (9-5, 2-4 Big 12) were in the game early and then suddenly not in the game at all.
The Sooners grabbed their first 10-point lead with 9:47 before the half on a 3-pointer from De’Vion Harmon; their first 20-point lead with 15:58 remaining when a Harmon layup put them on top 45-24; and their first 30-point lead on a dunk from Victor Iwaukor with 4:02 remaining.
“That’s the second half we needed,” Harmon said. “Against West Virginia … we let them crawl all the way back and they took the lead.”
Not this time.
Harmon finished with 22 points, six rebounds and four assists. Austin Reaves finished with 14 points and six assists.
Harmon was particularly busy.
“I thought he handled every role tonight in a great way,” said Kruger. “He played the wing, power forward, played the point. Made great plays from all three positions all night long.”
Gibson, after struggling at Baylor and Kansas, bounced back with 11 points, three assists and three steals.
OU didn’t shoot the lights out, but was plenty solid, hitting 46.4 percent (32 of 69) overall, 44.4 percent (12 of 27) from beyond the 3-point arc and a perfect 6 of 6 from the free-throw line.
TCU’s shooting struggles — 34.6 percent (18 of 52) overall; 21.1 percent (4 of 19) from 3-point land — had plenty to do with OU’s defense.
“We’ve had trouble getting to 3-point shooters … we haven’t done a good job,” Kruger said. “The last two games, we’ve done a much better job.”
The Sooners committed just five turnovers. Eight of the Frogs’ 16 giveaways were OU steals and though there’s no stat for hurried shots thrown at the basket to beat the shot clock, TCU suffered a bunch of those, too.
R.J. Nembhard led the Frogs with 10 points. Mike Mills finished with eight points and nine rebounds.
“This was a game we needed,” Harmon said.
They made it look easy.