No. 19 Oklahoma late drought in 69-58 loss at No. 21 Baylor
WACO, Texas (AP) — Maybe all the games against Top 25 opponents are starting to wear on No. 19 Oklahoma.
After a big run to regain the lead Saturday night, the Sooners went scoreless for more than 4½ minutes. No. 21 Baylor responded by scoring 10 straight points in that stretch, including a couple of 3-pointers and a rim-rocking fastbreak dunk, on way to a 69-58 victory.
“We just got to find ways to grind and keep grinding,” said Big 12 scoring leader Buddy Hield, whose 12 points were six below his season average. “We’ve been struggling all these games in conference. We’ll get our fight back. We’ve got to get everybody going more and we’ll start clicking again.”
Oklahoma (12-7, 3-4 Big 12) played its national-high ninth Top 25 opponent already this season, and the sixth ranked foe in Big 12 play that began with a 10-point win over the Bears at home three weeks ago.
“The first half, Baylor was dictating most of the 20 minutes. I thought we opened the second half with a little bit more life. ... Had an opportunity to get it in decent shape,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. “At the critical time there of the second half I thought Baylor was a little quicker to boards. Made plays, made shots there in the key stretch when the game was even to create a little bit of a margin.”
Kenny Chery had a 3-pointer to start the run by Baylor (15-4, 3-3) and tie the game at 49 with 6:45 left. The point guard also had a long rebound off a missed 3-pointer by Oklahoma, igniting the highlight play for the Bears.
Chery passed ahead to Royce O’Neale, who caught the ball off balance, but still managed in one motion to get it to Rico Gathers for a run-punctuating dunk that put Baylor up 56-49.
“I knew he was going to catch it and dunk it,” O’Neale said.
Jordan Woodard also had 12 points each for the Sooners, while Ryan Spangler and Tashawn Thomas each had 10 points.
Lester Medford had 17 points for Baylor, while Chery had 13, Taurean Prince 12 and O’Neale 10. Gathers had eight points and eight rebounds, 20 fewer than his Big 12 record in Baylor’s previous game.
The Sooners’ next game, at home Wednesday night against Texas Tech, is only their second one this month not against a ranked team. But the Red Raiders are coming off a win Saturday against No. 9 Iowa State.
The Sooners opened the second half with a 7-0 run, with Hield turning a steal into a breakaway two-handed slam before Isaiah Cousins hit a 3-pointer and Thomas a jumper to go ahead 31-30. They later scored nine consecutive points, with Thomas’ two free throws breaking a 40-all tie before his inside basket.
“We need to realize how important each possession is and finish opportunities when we get ’em,” Kruger said. “The ones that came that determined the game were buckets that we’ve got to fight a little harder to prevent.”
Oklahoma had its fewest points at halftime this season, down 30-24. The Sooners scored 23 points in the second half of consecutive games in the Bahamas at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament Thanksgiving weekend. ... Heild was 0-for-7 on 3-pointers. He came in leading the Big 12 with 3.1 per game.
Baylor recognized Jerry Mallett, who was in attendance three days after his single-game record of 27 rebounds was broken by Gathers. Mallett set his record on Feb. 1, 1955, making the nearly 60-year-old record the team’s longest-standing record until Gathers’ 28-rebound game against NAIA school Huston-Tillotson.
When Oklahoma beat Baylor at home on Jan. 3, Thomas, Hield and Isaiah Cousins combined for 63 points, with each scoring at least 19 points. In the rematch, that trio had only 30 points with Hield’s 12 the most.
Oklahoma is home Wednesday night against Texas Tech.
Baylor plays Tuesday night at Oklahoma State.