Jan. 24—If there were any indicators of how Oklahoma would fare on Tuesday night, they came at the start of both halves.
The Sooners opened the first half in a 16-3 hole against No. 11-ranked TCU, as the Sooners' first basket came on a CJ Noland 3-pointer nearly five minutes after the opening tip. After entering halftime trailing by 17 points, the Sooners needed a spark to start the final 20 minutes.
They didn't get it. Their first bucket came at the 13:05 mark, though by then TCU had already scored 11 second-half points and had increased their lead to 26.
It all worked against the Sooners, who suffered their largest defeat of the season in a 79-52 loss at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas.
Here's four takeaways from the Sooners' third consecutive conference loss:
1. Horned Frogs find easy baskets in transition
The Sooners struggled in nearly every facet of the game on both ends.
One of their biggest struggles was defending TCU's transition attack. The Horned Frogs scored 25 fast break points, routinely finding wide open shots at the rim.
A lot of those opportunities came from OU turnovers. The Sooners committed 15 turnovers, which the Horned Frogs turned into 15 points.
The Horned Frogs found points in other ways, too. Just three days after surrendering 17 offensive rebounds to Baylor, the Sooners gave up 14 offensive rebounds and 17 second-chance points to the Horned Frogs.
The Horned Frogs also made 21-of-29 free throw attempts, while the Sooners converted on just 7-of-10.
2. Grant Sherfield has gone cold offensively
For much of the season, it's been Sherfield powering the Sooners' offense.
When he struggles, the team typically struggles. That happened once again in Fort Worth.
Sherfield finished with just eight points on 2-of-11 shooting and again went scoreless in the second half for the third consecutive game. Though the Sooners' leading scorer is averaging 17 points per game, he's now scored 16 total points in his last five halves.
Sherfield also played a season-low 24 four minutes, as he came out of the game with 11 minutes to go and never returned.
Sherfield wasn't the only one who struggled. Tanner Groves, the Sooners' second-leading scorer, never got going as the veteran big man finished with just two points and took only two shots. He also fouled out of the game, marking the second time that's happened in conference play.
Freshman guard Milos Uzan, who's emerged as one of the nation's top young players and is shooting 55 percent from the floor this season, finished with just two points on 1-of-10 shooting. The team combined to shoot a season-low 31 percent from the floor (20-of-64) and 26 percent from the 3-point line (5-of-19)
But it all starts with Sherfield, and the Sooners simply need him to find a rhythm.
3. Moser unloads the bench
With the Sooners trailing big, the OU coach turned to his bench.
That included minutes for freshman guard Benny Schroeder, who made just his third appearance this season. He played 10 minutes and recorded a plus-minus of four, adding four points and two rebounds.
Joe Bamisile, who fell out of the rotation once conference play began, made his Big 12 debut against TCU. He went scoreless and missed both of his shot attempts, though he added three rebounds.
Otega Oweh received some early minutes after providing a spark off the bench in the Sooners' previous outing against Baylor, but the freshman couldn't quite lift his team against the Horned Frogs. He finished with three points on 1-of-6 shooting, adding four rebounds and a block.
4. Sooners stuck at the bottom of conference standings
With the loss, the Sooners now sit with an 11-9 record and 2-6 in the Big 12.
They are currently No. 8 in the conference standings, and the schedule doesn't get any easier. They do get a break from conference play this Saturday at home for the SEC-Big 12 Challenge.
But they face No. 2-ranked Alabama in what could be their toughest foe of the season.
A loss against the Crimson Tide doesn't hurt them in the Big 12 standings, but a win would be huge in boosting their resume for the NCAA Tournament. With the Sooners on a three-game skid, and much of conference play still to come, they can't afford many additional pitfalls.
Up next: The Sooners take on No. 2 Alabama at 1 p.m. Saturday at Lloyd Noble Center. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.
Jesse Crittenden is the sports editor of The Transcript and covers OU athletics. Reach him at email@example.com or at 405-366-3580