Oklahoma, the second-place team in the Big 12 this season, had one of its worst shooting games of the season and was completely dominated in the first 20 minutes of its quarterfinal Big 12 Tournament game with Baylor, and the seventh-seeded Bears withstood a valiant OU comeback in the closing minutes that fell short in a 78-73 Bears victory.
The No. 7-seeded Bears dominated OU everywhere on the court in the opening half, mounting a 16-point advantage over the favored Sooners going into halftime. Baylor stretched its advantage to 21 early in the second half, and it appeared with five minutes gone in the second half that this game was going to turn into a rout.
Oklahoma shot just 38 percent from the floor in the first half, and it was much worse than than early on. Meanwhile, Baylor was burning the nets at 55-percent efficiency in the opening half, when the Bears did most of their damage.
The shots finally began falling for the Sooners at about the eight-minute mark of the second half. When OU sophomore Buddy Hield hit a three-point shot with 1:27 left in the game, the Sooners had cut the Baylor lead to four points, but that was a close as coach Lon Kruger’s team would get.
Baylor’s seven-foot center Isaiah Austin was dominnt at both ends of the floor and really was the difference in the game. Austin had a team-high 18 points,grabbed five rebounds and blocked five shots, creating havoc for Oklahoma all night in the paint. All five Baylor starters scored in double figures in a balanced Bears attack.
Cory Jefferson also had a big night for the Bears, contributing 14 points and 11 rebounds
“I thought our guys really defended a lot better,” Baylor head coach Scott Drew said in his postgame press conference. “It all starts (with) taking care of the ball on the defensive end, and I think we shot 50 percent for a reason, shared the ball and got high percentage shots.”
As dominant as the taller and longer Bears were inside, especially in the first half, Oklahoma actually outscored Baylor for the game in points in the paint (26 to 22), points off turnovers (16 to 10) and second-chance points (20 to 15). The Sooner bench also outscored the Bears’ reserves 18 to 10. But it was all for naught, as Baylor led from wire to wire and avenged its two losses to OU during the season.
Another key difference in the game that largely favored the Bears was at the free-throw line. Oklahoma shot only seven free throws the entire game, making five of them. Baylor, on the other hand, went to the free throw line 35 times, which contributed 23 points to their total.
Senior Cameron Clark led the Sooners in scoring with 19 points, and OU’s leading scorer on the seaon, Buddy Hield added 15, with the majority of those coming very late in the game as the Sooners were mounting their late rally.
Baylor, with back-to-back tournament wins over Texas Tech and Oklahoma, advances to the semifinals at Kansas City’s Sprint Center on Friday, when they will play the winner of final quarterfinal matchup between No. 3 seed Texas and No. 6 West Virginia.