The Oklahoma Sooners took to the road and continued to build upon what they have shown fans this season...grit. The Ferrell Center has been a tough venue for opposing teams traveling to Waco to take on Pierre Jackson and the Baylor Bears who are 53-9 since 2009 at home.
From the get go, the Sooner took control leading for the majority of the game. The only time Baylor took a lead was at just over a minute into the game with a 4-2 lead. Oklahoma took an 11-point advantage into the locker room and eventually would stretch the lead to 16. It was the closing miuntes that provided some excitement for those in attendance while those at home scooted ever so slightly toward the edge of their seats.
With just over a minute to play, the Bears found themselves clawing their way back into this game. The result was a 1-point deficit. Oklahoma's Buddy Hield came to the rescue with drive that resulted in a made field goal giving the Sooners a bit of a cushion. A repeat was needed as Baylor once again found themselves trailing by a single point with 8.6 seconds left in the game. This time it was Steven Pledger to the rescue knocking down a pair of free throws to force the long distance three ball in order for Baylor to tie it up.
Scott Drew and the crowd must have wanted the ball in their star's, Jackson, hands. With 22 points already netted, Jackson let a 3-pointer fly that was off target with only three seconds left. After being out rebounded the entire game, Oklahoma let Brady Heslip come up with a second chance to push the game into overtime that rimmed out.
"Well, if there's any time you can win on the road you feel really good about it. Any win against the very good Baylor club makes it better. The guys on top battled for the most part, executed things very well, moved the ball pretty well and got each other open much of the night. We didn't handle the last few minutes as well as we would've liked to, but we'll learn from that. Any time we play Baylor they're long and athletic and do a great job. That makes you feel even better about the outcome." - Lon Kruger
Yet again, players were setting career highs against Oklahoma (I went there just for you Jordan Esco). Isaiah Austin, a 7-footer and future first round draft pick, tallied up 21 rebounds (career high) to go along with 17 points.. Although this kid is a freshman, his presence is felt on both ends of the court as 12 of those rebounds were offensive.
"Isaiah was great in the second half. We needed that, because Oklahoma defended us well and our shot selection was poor. I thought we took some bad shots in the first half and the second chance points (24-6 advantage for Baylor) gave us a chance." - Scott Drew
On the other side of things, Amath M'Baye found a groove putting up 20 points to record a season high. The comfort on the court sank in with the rest of the team. Steven Pledger was back to his old self from beyond the arc connecting on three 3-pointers to finish with 20 points as well. As a team, the Sooners shot 52.7% from the field in route to a 74-71 victory.
I'm proud of how we finished the game, but disappointed in how we started the game. At the end of the day you hate to put yourself in a position to come back like that and not get over the hump. I think Oklahoma deserves a lot of the credit because they shot 53% against us and for the most part played an outstanding game." - Scott Drew
And of course, you can't miss out on this little gem. During a stretch of the game, Baylor decided to play a 4-guard set to create a bit of havoc in the backcourt defensively. The usual term used here is "playing small" or "going small" but I bet you never thought it would be this small.
The Sooners will be looking to ride the momentum back home where they will face a tough, yet beatable, opponent in the Kansas St. Wildcats. The game will be this Saturday, February 2 at 5:00 PM CST. Boomer!