No. 6 Oklahoma escapes with win over No. 19 Baylor

By The Sports Xchange

NORMAN, Okla. -- On a night when Oklahoma's last national player of the year was honored, Buddy Hield made yet another case for this year's award.

Hield started off hot, then disappeared a bit before coming on strong near the end, helping the No. 6 Sooners escape Lloyd Noble Center with a 73-71 win over No. 19 Baylor.


Oklahoma looked in cruise control early, building a 26-point first-half lead behind a dominating performance from Hield.

But the Bears made it difficult for Hield to find much room to work in the second half, as he didn't score after the break until less than nine minutes remained.

"I feel like we got stagnant," Hield said. "We didn't have the flow we had in the first half. We were just stagnant. Thank God Isaiah (Cousins) stepped up and made a big shot. We really needed that. He picked us up.


"We found a way."

Cousins' jump shot with just more than two minutes remaining broke up a 13-0 Baylor run that put the Bears ahead for the first time since the game's opening two minutes.

Then with Oklahoma clinging to a one-point lead with a little more than a minute to go, Hield fought for a rebound with Baylor's King McClure.

Hield drew a foul on McClure, then attacked the basket on the ensuing possession, earning a layup to put the Sooners up by three, 71-68.

But the senior had a chance to put the game away in the final six seconds, going to the line with his team still up by three.

The nearly 90 percent free-throw shooter missed his free throw, though, giving the Bears life.

The Sooners fouled Taurean Prince near midcourt, sending him to the line for a free throw of his own.

Prince made the first with 2.4 seconds left, then had to intentionally miss the second free throw.

The rebound, though, went toward midcourt where Hield chased it down and raised his index finger into the air as the Sooners celebrated.

It was the second consecutive game in which Oklahoma (23-6, 11-6 Big 12) let a lead slip away late.


But unlike Saturday at Texas, when the Sooners were outscored 25-5 in the final seven-plus minutes, Oklahoma was able to escape this one with a win.

"I feel good about that," Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. "Obviously we put ourselves in position to be down late there. You can't do that. You can't afford to do that.

"It was good to bounce back and win it after that for sure. It would have been a tough one to get over had we not."

Hield finished with 23 points, 16 in the first half. Ryan Spangler added 15 points and 13 rebounds.

Prince and McClure had 17 points each to lead Baylor (21-9, 10-7).

At halftime, Oklahoma honored 2009 consensus national player of the year Blake Griffin as his No. 23 was raised to the rafters.

To that point, with the Sooners leading by 21, 46-25, it looked like the night would be a celebration not only of Griffin and Hield but of the other five Oklahoma seniors as well.

When Hield heated up early, scoring 13 of his early points in a stretch of a little more than three minutes early as Oklahoma started by jumping ahead 26-3.


But the script the Sooners used to build that lead -- forcing turnovers and taking advantage of them -- was turned after halftime.

Baylor forced the Sooners into 11 second-half turnovers, scoring 22 points off of them to not only get back into the game but take the lead briefly with less than four minutes remaining.

"I was proud of our comeback," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "A lot of teams would've given up or not come back or divided. Credit to our leadership for not letting that happen."

But the things that helped the Bears grab the lead soon slipped away.

"What had gotten us the lead was transition," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "We stopped pushing. We didn't offensive rebound and those offensive rebounds really hurt us."

Free-throw shooting also hurt the Bears.

Baylor was just 9 of 18 from the free-throw line, including 4 of 10 after halftime.

NOTES: With his free throws in the final seconds, Buddy Hield passed Darryl "Choo" Kennedy for fourth place in school history in scoring and Nick Collison for fifth place in Big 12 history. ... Oklahoma's 46 first-half points were its most since the Sooners scored 52 against TCU on Feb. 2. ... The game was the 97th consecutive start for Oklahoma's Hield, Isaiah Cousins, Ryan Spangler and Jordan Woodard. ... Baylor's Rico Gathers came off the bench for the third consecutive game. Gathers started the Bears' first 23 games before an illness forced him to miss time. ... Oklahoma wraps up its regular season at TCU on Saturday. ... Baylor hosts West Virginia on Saturday.


Latest Headlines