NORMAN- Oklahoma didn’t play poorly.
In fact, they played pretty well.
But the Baylor Bears played better.
Hosting the number one team in the nation for the first time in 23 years, the Sooners fell short in their upset bid, falling 65-54.
“Baylor’s good. They’re really good,” Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger said after the game.
“We just had some empty possessions and couldn’t quite get over the hump.”
The Sooners nearly turned the game on its head with 12:42 left in the second half.
Kristian Doolittle cut the lead to one point with a smooth jumper from outside the paint. After a stop on the other end of the floor, Doolittle missed the deep three to give Oklahoma the lead.
Instead, Baylor responded with an 11-0 run over the next two minutes, extending a cushion Sooners would not penetrate the rest of the evening.
“They’re five guys that are very much together. Very connected defensively,” Kruger said.
“We had two or three looks and just didn’t quite get the bucket that we needed to take the lead.”
Doolittle said Oklahoma knew it was their moment to take the game over.
“We missed an opportunity to take the lead,” he said. “We know we had a lot of good shots that just didn’t go in for us tonight.”
Missing their second leading scorer in MaCio Teague, the Bears still controlled vast stretches of the contest.
Guard Jared Butler stepped up and filled the hole for Baylor, leading all scorers with 22 points while shooting 5-of-13 from deep.
“We’ve had different people step up each and every night,” Bears coach Scott Drew said. “Nobody can be on for 23 straight nights, and it takes a team.”
“We’ve been blessed for sure.”
The win extends Baylor’s unbeaten streak to 23 games, the longest streak in the history of the Big 12.
“I’d have never even thought of a streak like this,” Drew said.
“The Big 12 has been the number one conference for six straight years because top to bottom there is no easy game.”
Baylor’s stifling defense gave the Sooners fits all night.
Holding Oklahoma to just 37 percent from the field as a team, the Bears keyed in on the Sooner sharpshooters. Brady Manek and Doolittle, Oklahoma’s two leading scorers, were held to combined 9-of-25 from the field.
“It was pretty difficult. They just forced a lot of tough shots,” Doolittle said.
“I feel like we did a pretty good job of being patient and trying to get the right look for us, but you know there’s only 30 seconds on the shot clock so you can only wait for so long,” he said.
Oklahoma struggled in the half-court against the Bears all night. Along with the 11-0 run in the second half, Baylor held the Sooners scoreless for more than four minutes twice in the first half.
Out of the halftime break, Alondes Williams provided a spark for Oklahoma.
Williams continues to be Oklahoma’s best option when he is able to get downhill and attack the basket. He converted two quick layups to ignite the Lloyd Noble Center before being forced to the bench with foul trouble.
“He’s had those stretches during conference play,” Kruger said of Williams. “We’re working on being a little bit more consistent from one half to next, but he’s very talented and very explosive to the rim.”
Though the Sooners were able to improve in the second half, Baylor ultimately flexed their muscles and proved why they are the top ranked squad in the country.
After facing Kansas and Baylor in back-to-back games, the Sooners head into another emotional game.
Gallager-Iba Arena is the next destination for Oklahoma, and a tilt with their in-state rivals the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Doolittle said the game against Oklahoma State will have Oklahoma’s full attention.
“The league is going so crazy that every game is important. You can’t overlook any games,” he said.
The league is going so crazy that every game is important. You can’t overlook any games.
The Sooners emerged victorious in the first Bedlam battle of the season, downing the Cowboys 82-69 earlier this month.
Tip-off from Stillwater, OK. is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Saturday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.