After producing eight points and ten rebounds in 27 minutes of action Saturday in No. 21 Oklahoma’s 68-56 win at TCU, senior forward TaShawn Thomas left the game with just over seven minutes remaining with an eye injury. Thomas, who has become more comfortable in Lon Kruger’s system as the season’s progressed after transferring in from Houston, did not return to the game.
According to Ryan Aber of The Oklahoman, Kruger didn’t know much about the status of his starting forward after the game. That’s an issue, as the Sooners scheduled to host No. 11 Iowa State Monday night in what is a quick turnaround for both teams (the Cyclones also played Saturday).
Thomas exited the game and after being checked out by team trainer Alex Brown, did not return.
“He got hit in the eye,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. “I don’t know anything really more than that at this point.”
While the Sooners did manage to out-rebound TCU by four Saturday, the problem for Oklahoma was that the Horned Frogs managed to grab 21 offensive rebounds and that was with Thomas on the floor for a significant portion of the game. A similar issue against an Iowa State team that’s much better equipped to take advantage of second chances could cost Oklahoma dearly.
In conference games Thomas is averaging 10.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, with Ryan Spangler (7.3 rpg) being the lone Sooner who’s performed better on the glass.
No. 9 Kansas beat No. 18 Oklahoma in one of the most thrilling games you’ll see this season. The Jayhawks were up by 19 at halftime, managed to fall behind the Sooners by the ten minute mark of the second half and then proceeded to bounce back from a four-point deficit in the final minutes to take home an 85-78 win.
The biggest sequence of the game came with about four minutes left. Kelly Oubre missed a free throw that would have tied the game at 71 but Cliff Alexander came up with a tough offensive rebound. The ball eventually ended up in Brannen Greene’s hands, and Greene buried a three to give Kansas the lead back. At the other end of the floor, Alexander drew a charge on TaShawn Thomas which led to a Frank Mason Jr. jumper at the other end, put KU back up four points.
Isaiah Cousins would hit a three to cut the lead back to one, but Kansas scored on back-to-back possessions afterwards, capping a decisive, 10-3 run.
The questionable call in that run was the charge on Thomas, who “pushed off” on Alexander before scoring to tie the game at 73. Here’s the play:
You make the call.
Charge? Flop? No-call?
It certainly didn’t lose Oklahoma the game — that atrocious first half did the trick there — but it was a huge momentum swing in the final minutes of a barn-burner.
Buddy Hield finished with 20 points, 10 boards and four assists and Tashawn Thomas had one of his best games as a Sooner, finishing with 24 points and eight boards, as No. 18 Oklahoma beat No. 22 Baylor, 73-63.
The Sooners did a great job of breaking down the Baylor zone. The way to beat the Bears is to get the ball to the baseline, allowing your front line to finish around the rim or kick the ball out to shooters when the defense collapses, and that’s exactly what they did. Thomas was 11-for-17 from the floor and Hield combined with Isaiah Cousins to score 39 points and hit nine threes.
Everyone knows about how good Hield is, but on Saturday we all got a glimpse of the two guys that will be the difference-makers for this team. It’s been written over and over again, but getting Thomas eligible was so important because it gave Lon Kruger another scorer — a more athletic one — along his front line. But the play of Cousins is key as well, as he’s one of the most improved players in the Big 12 conference and takes a lot of pressure off of Hield.
The Sooners trailed late in the first half, but they made the game-changing run early in the second half thanks to their defense, holding the Bears without a field goal for more than six minutes as they opened up a double-digit lead.
That’s been a major difference this season as well. The Sooners were not a very good defensive team last season, but as we enter the throes of conference play, the Sooners are No. 5 in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to Kenpom.
As far as Baylor is concerned, this was really their first chance to prove to the nation that they deserved their top 25 ranking, and it didn’t go as planned. Granted, they were playing on the road against a top three team in the league, but there are still some question marks about their back court play.
There should not longer be questions about big man Jonathan Motley, however. He finished with 24 points in the loss.