OU comes from behind to beat Baylor
A strong second half pushed No. 25 Oklahoma past Baylor in a key road win in the Big 12 Conference Saturday.
OU’s Buddy Hield scored 19 points – all in the second half – as the Sooners rallied to win 66-64 over the No. 12 Bears.
The win was OU’s first on the road against a team ranked in the top 12 or higher of the AP poll since Feb. 17, 1993 (80-77 at No. 6 Kansas).
Oklahoma won for the second time in three Big 12 road games and improved to 14-4 overall and 3-2 in conference play. Baylor fell to 13-4 and 1-3.
The win stopped Baylor’s 13-game home winning streak, the second longest in school history. Baylor had won 18 of its previous 21 games overall, with two of the three losses coming on the road to top-10 teams.
Down eight points (32-24) after Baylor’s opening possession of the second half, OU used a 16-0 run to go up eight (42-34) with 14:30 to go. Baylor regained the lead with 9 minutes left and the game went back and forth until OU took the lead for good with 4 minutes remaining (58-57).
“At halftime neither team really had anything going offensively, so to be within six at that point our guys felt kind of good about that,” said OU coach Lon Kruger. “They came out in the second half and played with much more freedom. I think early on we were a little bit awed by the length and the size of Baylor and their zone was awfully tough. We didn’t get inside very much. I thought we did a better job moving the ball in the second half. Buddy [Hield] knocking down some three’s there kind of jump started everybody’s confidence, and that was great.”
“I thought we were more intense in the first half,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew. “I credit them for having good players. They’ve made shots all year long – that’s why they’re a good team. Everyone in the Big 12 is a good team. It’s amazing how momentum is such a thing in sports. You can look across the nation and all of a sudden teams are hot and then they get off track and lose a couple and get it back.”
The Sooners were up by seven with 21 seconds left before Baylor sophomore center Isaiah Austin hit back-to-back 3-pointers (he was 1-for-7 on the season from long range entering the game). Baylor had a chance to tie on its final possession but its would-be overtime-forcing make was after the buzzer.
“I have always been confident in shooting,” Hield said. “My teammates always encourage me to make shots. Fortunately, every second half I probably get a little spurt going on. It is all thanks to my teammates finding me in the open spots to give me the confidence to make shots.”
Hield was 7-for-11 from the field and 4-for-8 from behind the arc in the second half. Hield also pulled down eight rebounds, tied for his second highest total of the year. He leads all Big 12 players with his 19 treys in league action (five games).
Sophomore forward Ryan Spangler grabbed a game-high-tying nine rebounds and added seven points, two assists and two blocked shots. He was 2-for-3 from the field, continuing his streak of shooting at least 50 percent from the field (every game this year).
“They are big,” Spangler said of Baylor. “It is hard to get used to. You just have to be smart about it by trying to pump fake them and get it in there. I knew I wasn’t going to hit very many shots today because of how long they are, so I had to do other things to get my teammates shots whether it be move the ball around or whatever it is.”
OU hosted TCU Jan. 22 and will travel to Lubbock for a game with Texas Tech at 3 p.m. Saturday.
OSU falls at KU
It’s tough to win at Kansas (13-4, 4-0 Big 12).
Last Saturday, Oklahoma State (15-3, 3-2 Big 12) fought hard but came up short and lost to the Jayhawks, 80-78.
“It was a hard-fought game, each team played hard,” said OSU coach Travis Ford. “Our guys sustained quite a first half, (that was) quite a punch we took the first half. I like how we responded in the second half. That’s a really, really good Kansas basketball team, really. They’ve got a lot of offense and they made a lot of big shots. [Naadir] Tharpe kept making good shots and then Frank Mason made a big three.”
The Jayhawks led by 17 (47-30) at halftime. OSU used a 29-12 run to start the second half. Oklahoma State outscored the Jayhawks by 15 in the second half. Phil Forte, the league’s three-point shooting leader, pulled the Cowboys within a single point with six seconds on the clock. He led all scorers with 23 points thanks to a career-high seven three-pointers.
“In the first half, our offense just played into some bad predicaments,” Ford said. “Our offense in the first half really hurt our defense. We passed the ball better, we executed better and got through our options much better in the second half. When you do that it actually opens up one-on-one plays later. We just forced way too much in the first half.”
OSU beat KU at Lawrence last year. Last Saturday, there were six technicals fouls called in the game.
“It was due to emotions,” Ford said. “I didn’t think any of it was dirty, or anything like that from what I could tell and what the referee was saying. It was just two teams playing very hard. They’ve got good kids, we’ve got good kids. Two teams trying their hardest to win the game. When you play that hard, it’s a physical battle. I thought the referees did a good job of controlling because it was a physical hard-fought game. Two teams that are trying their hardest to win. But I didn’t think there was anything dirty.”
But Kansas’ 55.8 percent shooting from the floor is the highest OSU has allowed this season, while its own 39.4 mark was a season-low.
“We are 4-0, and we played really well the first half, but we played as bad the second half as we did good the first half,” said KU coach Bill Self. “We got out of here with the win. We controlled the game start to finish. I think they only led (the game) once and that was 4-2. They cut it to two points with a chance to tie or win late, and fortunately Frank (Mason) made a play. We are happy that we won, but frustrated about how we finished the game.
“That was as poor of a second half as we’ve played.
“We told our team, ‘you have to guard two guys on the perimeter.” All they (Phil Forte III and Markel Brown) did was combine for 12 three-point makes. We didn’t guard them well at all.”
Oklahoma State All-American Marcus Smart hit three 3-pointers in the first four minutes as OSU raced past TCU, 82-50, in Stillwater last week.
“The most positive thing is that we talked about a lot of things at halftime that we wanted to do in the second half, and we did them,” Ford said. “We played much better in the second half, and it started with rebounding. It was tied at halftime, 17-17; two teams that are not the greatest rebounding teams. We had one offensive rebound and they had one, so I talked to the team a lot about offensive rebounding. The margin was way too close. It was way too close, but then we out-rebounded them for the game, 46 to 33. That’s a pretty dominant rebounding half.
“I thought that in the second half we defended better and made them take tougher shots. We fouled a little bit too much. Those were the positives. That’s what I care about because on the offensive end, once we got off to a decent lead, we became very careless and tried to be a little too cute at times. We got a little bit sloppy, but our defense and rebounding was much better in the second half and that’s what I was happy with.”
OSU will host West Virginia at 1 p.m. Saturday.