Full-court press: TCU

Sooners look to avoid trap game on the road in Ft. Worth

Sooners Illustrated will present three things to watch before every men’s basketball game during the 2014-15 season.

No. 21 Oklahoma (15-7, 4-4) at TCU (14-8, 1-8)

When: 2:05 p.m. CST

TV/Radio: ESPNEWS/107.7 FM(OKC); 1430 AM (Tulsa)

Series: Oklahoma, 14-2

Not a trap game

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger doesn’t throw out the phrase ‘trap game’ all that often. He definitely isn’t going to use it during Big 12 play.

That’s a message he has emphasized as Oklahoma prepares to play the worst team in the conference.

“He never really says trap game to us. He always says this team is better than you think,” Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler said. “Don’t overlook them. Don’t get any crazy thoughts. He pretty much tells us that a lot.”

Spangler said Thursday afternoon that the Horned Frogs could very easily have five wins in conference. TCU has lost twice in overtime, by three to Kansas and by five on the road against Kansas State.

The last time Oklahoma faced a “trap game,” it stumbled at home against Kansas State on the way to the first Big 12 loss of the season. Things have changed, Spangler said that Oklahoma realizes that it can get beat by anyone.

When you get trapped once, you usually don’t get trapped again.

“It’s not a typical one-win team. Our players know that,” Kruger said. “I don’t think we have to talk too much about it, although we certainly will remind them and show them the video that they have been right there in ballgames.”

Thomas taking charge(s)

There’s something that comes with being a four-year starter, like transfer forward TaShawn Thomas has done for Houston and now Oklahoma. It’s an understanding of what’s coming.

Most call it awareness.

In the past two games, Thomas has drawn five charges. “That takes awareness of driving and being ready to help,” Kruger said. “He’s done a good job. It’s the awareness and then the willingness to throw your body in there and take a charge is important to.”

It has invigorated Thomas’ game, and he’s playing with more confidence than at any point this season. Thomas went through a rough stretch early in the Big 12 schedule as he tried to get accustomed to playing in the toughest conference.

He said it was more physical and much more demanding on a daily basis than playing in Conference USA.

“He just focused a little bit more and committed a little be more mentally to going out and be more aggressive and more physical,” Kruger said. “I think he’s done that the last couple games.”

Woodard another weapon

Oklahoma point guard Jordan Woodard’s game has changed in the past few games. He’s far more aggressive and is attacking the paint more than at any other time during the season.

During Oklahoma three-game win streak, Woodard has attempted more shots than he has during any other three-game stretch in Big 12 play.

“It helps a lot,” Kruger said. “Conference play, he’s shot a pretty good percentage and from 3 a pretty good percentage. People guard him, which opens up form driving lanes. It opens up the people on the inside.”

In fact, Woodard is shooting 50 percent on his last 22 shots. He has hit more free throws in the last two games than during the previous six games.

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