The Baylor Bears have been playing solid basketball as of late. Carrying momentum into the Big XII Tournament, the Bears earned the right to play the Oklahoma Sooners in the quarterfinal round after defeating the TCU Horned Frogs. Credit the Bears for dominating the paint as they move on to the semifinals with a 78-73 win despite the valiant effort from their opponent.
For all that he's done at OU. Lon Kruger is 0-3 in Kansas City and 0-4 in the postseason. That's tough to type.— CC Machine (@CCMachine) March 14, 2014
In the opening minutes of play, Baylor used a zone defense to slow the offensive power of the Sooners while building a 10-0 lead before Buddy Hield put OU on the board with a trey. By the time the first half came to a close, Scott Drew and his squad enjoyed a 47-31 lead, a mark Oklahoma was unable to overcome.
Behind 60% shooting from beyond the arc and 54.8% from the floor, Baylor looked unstoppable. Sharing the ball was the theme as all five BU starters scored 7+ points. However, the biggest stat line of the first half was rebounding as the Bears pulled down 22 for a margin of +8. Needless to say, the height differential between the two teams was on full display.
Isaiah Austin starred during the match-up on both ends of the floor. His role alone made it difficult on a physical Ryan Spangler. Add to Austin a Corey Jefferson and Rico Gathers and the task becomes nearly impossible for the opposing post players. Make no mistake, a few blocked shots intimidate players and discourage them from attacking the rim. That was the case this evening as OU shot 35 three pointers. Austin finished with a team high 18 points, 5 blocks, and 5 rebounds
During the second half, the Sooners deficit peaked at 21 points. Yet, Oklahoma would hold their opponent without a field goal for the next six minutes. Recognizing a mistmatch, Tyler Neal took advantage of Kenny Chery to cut the lead to single digits at nine points. This OU team simply refused to quit putting the pressure back on Baylor to finish out the game.
Cameron Clark lead the charge before Hield took over (15 points during the contest). With electric dunks, the Sooners hoped to add a spark or increase of energy that never quite showed up. Regardless, Clark finished with 19 points hitting tough shot after tough shot.
Shutting down the play of Chery helped Lon Kruger and his squad significantly. However, the deficit proved to be too much to overcome as Baylor connected on 50% of their shots and took five times as many trips to the charity stripe. As a team, OU shot 42.4% from the field and 34.3% from range while being outrebounded.