Last week, seven of the top 10 teams in college basketball – including Oklahoma and Kansas – went 1-1.
Despite a loss to then-No. 19 Iowa State, Oklahoma rebounded with a decisive 82-72 win over then-No. 13 Baylor (now No 17) in Waco.
The Sooners, who led by 20 points with five minutes to go, stayed No. 1 with a slim lead over No. 2 North Carolina, one of the three Top 10 teams to go 2-0. The win gave Oklahoma a tie with Baylor for the top spot in the Big 12 and a pathway for not only a Big 12 championship but perhaps a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Sooners hosted Texas Tech Tuesday night.
OU (16-2, 5-2) has now beaten Oklahoma State and Baylor on the road with only Kansas State, West Virginia, Texas and TCU road games remaining. The Sooners have rematches with Kansas, OSU and Baylor at home plus a home game against TCU.
OU matched a season high with 16 three-point shots against Baylor. Jordan Woodard scored 15 of his 20 points in the first half, when All American Buddy Hield was on the bench for a long stretch with foul trouble.
“Just trying to focus and knock down shots,” Woodard said after the game. “I felt like we just had to keep the ball moving against the zone. Ryan, Isaiah (Cousins) and Khadeem (Lattin) made some good passes and I was just trying to knock down the shots.”
He said the team didn’t panic when Buddy Hield got in foul trouble.
“He wasn’t down at all – he told us all that we had to step up,” Woodard said. “He told me to keep shooting, told Isaiah to keep doing what he was doing, and as a team to pick it up. We knew when he came back in the second half we all would be clicking together.”
“That was a real important stretch,” Hield said. “The guys stepped up and made plays. I expect that in a team like that from guys like Jordan and Isaiah. They get in the gym a lot and make a lot of big shots. Jordan was really carrying the whole team by making shots. I was happy – if you looked at the bench I was celebrating more than anyone. I was really happy to see him make shots in the stretch.”
Oklahoma shot a season-high .620 (31-50) from the field overall, including a season-best .571 effort (16-28) from beyond the arc.
OU entered the game ranked No. 1 in the country in 3-point field goal percentage.
“Well, that’s Golden State,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said of OU’s three-point shooting. “I think schematically, we could have seen better things. That is where, as a coach, you kill yourself because you wish you would have prepared a little bit better. It’s tough when you have a one or two day prep to get everything in. I thought if we could have schemed a little better, then we could have made it a little bit tougher rather than giving up so many easy ones. You have to give them credit for so many great passes which makes it even more difficult.”
The team’s 16 3-pointers were one shy of the team’s season high (17 at Iowa State). OU has now made at least 10 treys in 12 contests this year.
“They really shoot it well,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “They made a lot of shots earlier in the week, too. The ball movement was really good – I didn’t realize it, but we had 29 assists – that’s a big number. Any time you can do that, it means you move the ball well and are making shots. The guys like to shoot – they spend a lot of time shooting – and they like passing to each other. That’s a good combination.”
The Sooners, who led by as many as 24 in the game, racked up a season-high 29 assists off 31 made baskets. That assist total was one short of the Big 12 record for a conference game (30 by Texas Tech vs. Baylor, Feb. 12, 2002).
Hield had 19 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block. Hield shot .700 (7-10) from the field and .571 (4-7) from long distance. It marked the sixth straight game Hield has posted at least four treys.