TCU routs Oklahoma State to sweep season series
The Horned Frogs dug themselves quite a hole against the Oklahoma State Cowboys Saturday, falling behind by as many as 12, 14-2, in the first five minutes, but TCU climbed all the way back behind the frontcourt duo of Kouat Noi and Ahmed Hamdy, 90-70.
The Horned Frogs improved to 18-9 overall and 6-8 in Big 12, while the Cowboys fell to 15-12 overall and 5-9 in conference play. The sixth conference win tied last season’s total for the most wins against the Big 12, which was a school record.
“I don’t know about the first ten minutes, but I was proud of our guys for the last 30,” TCU head coach Jamie Dixon said. “It was fun to see them respond and I challenged them to try to get the team out there that I believe we are.”
Noi hit four of his first five shots, consistently slicing through the lane for lay-ups to total 11 points and six rebounds in the first 20 minutes.
“He’s getting better as the year goes on, we’re finding him where he’s at and he’s become a way better shooter,” Dixon said. “He’s a hard matchup as a forward because he can shoot it so well and he finished well at the rim today, which is something we’ve been working on with him.”
Noi finished with a team-high and career-high 19 points.
Hamdy managed to draw foul after foul en route to nine first-half free throw attempts, making his last four as he finished with eight points and four rebounds in the opening half.
“I just brought a lot of energy, and I wanted to push the team on defense today because they needed me today,” Hamdy said.
Hamdy’s defense also managed to spark the home crowd, as the Fort Worth faithful serenaded the senior by chanting his name after each free throw attempt and defensive play he made.
“The crowd just gave me more confidence,” Hamdy said. “When the crowd got into it, I became more confident, which is why I made four in a row and had no more problems.”
Noi said Hamdy’s play changed TCU’s outlook when trailing early.
“Ahmed played big time for us in the first half, and in the second half he came back rebounding and being aggressive like he usually does,” Noi said. “He had a great game today, and it just lifted the whole team up.”
Hamdy’s physical play led to OSU center Mitchell Solomon, who scored the first seven points of the night, to pick up three early fouls, which clearly altered the Cowboy offensive attack.
“He’s our most impactful player, and it’s not close,” Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton said. “Not having Mitch is a big deal.”
Hamdy finished the contest with 12 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
The Horned Frogs took a three-point lead, 39-36, into the locker room, as the TCU defense managed to stifle the Cowboys as the first half concluded, limiting Oklahoma State to 37.5 percent shooting from the field. The Horned Frogs hit 46.4 percent of their shots before halftime.
Just over four minutes into the second half, the Horned Frogs scored seven straight points to increase their lead to double digits, 49-39. The closest Oklahoma State could get to the Horned Frogs for the rest of the night was seven, 57-50 with 11:38 remaining, as TCU built a lead as big as 21 points, 82-61 with 4:08 left to play, following a Noi three-pointer from the right wing.
“We had to win this game, and we probably have to win every game from here on out,” TCU guard Kenrich Williams said. “Coach got on to us in the huddle to play harder, and I think we picked it up from there.”
All 11 players that suited up for TCU entered the game, including Shaun Olden who did not play the last two games due to an injury suffered at Kansas on Feb. 6.
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