Happy to be home, No. 23 Oklahoma takes on No. 25 TCU
No. 23 Oklahoma, having already completed the two toughest road trips of this Big 12 season -- Kansas and Texas Tech -- goes into Saturday's home game against No. 25 TCU with a simple mission.
The Sooners (12-3, 1-2 Big 12) hung close in tough environments against the two teams expected to fight it out for the Big 12 title, but Oklahoma now needs to start stringing some wins together, especially at home.
Sooners coach Lon Kruger expects to have 6-foot-10 center Jamuni McNeace available for more than just limited minutes as he continues to work his way back from a right ankle sprain that has limited him for more than a month.
Kruger said this week that McNeace was "close to 100 percent."
"Now it's a little bit more mental than physical when you have an injury like that, especially when running and jumping is so much a part of his game," Kruger said. "If you're thinking about landing and rolling it again or whatever, it's hard to lose."
McNeace's return to full speed would give Kruger many more lineup options, as he's been forced to consistently play smaller without McNeace available much lately.
But the Sooners are still 6-2 since McNeace suffered the injury, and they have rebounded well in his absence.
The Sooners ranked No. 2 nationally with 32 defensive rebounds per game, through Thursday's action. Christian James, Brady Manek and Kristian Doolittle all rank in the top 10 in rebounding in the conference.
The Horned Frogs could be without starting guard Jaylen Fisher for the third consecutive game.
Fisher has missed TCU's first three conference games with swelling in his right knee.
"It's going to be an ever-changing situation probably," Horned Frogs coach Jamie Dixon told reporters. "We're just going to be looking at that every day. There's still swelling. He feels pretty comfortable with it, but it just comes and goes. That's just how it is right now."
If Fisher can't go, redshirt freshman RJ Nembhard will start in his place again. Nembhard has 24 points and four assists with three turnovers in 60 minutes over the last two games.
TCU (12-2, 1-1) had its nine-game winning streak snapped with Wednesday's loss at Kansas.
The Horned Frogs turned the ball over 20 times in that game, although Dixon said he didn't expect that to be a continuing problem. TCU is averaging just 12.7 turnovers per game.
"We're one of the lowest turnover teams in the country, so obviously it wasn't a normal situation," Dixon said.
Oklahoma doesn't force a ton of turnovers, but the Sooners do make opponents work for offense. Opponents are shooting just 42.6 percent against Oklahoma from inside the arc, putting the Sooners among the top 15 in the country.
Oklahoma has won all 11 home games in the series against TCU.
The Sooners are 13-2 when ranked and facing another ranked opponent at home during the Kruger era.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 11, 2019