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Oklahoma Sooners Basketball: OU smothered by No. 1 Baylor, 65-54

Oklahoma missed a huge opportunity to notch a season defining win over the top team in the land.

NCAA Basketball: Baylor at Oklahoma Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The Lloyd Noble Center was rocking for the majority of the night. Unfortunately for the Oklahoma Sooners, that still wasn’t enough to pull off an upset over the No. 1 Baylor Bears (24-1, 13-0), who now extend their winning streak to a Big 12-best 23 games. With the 65-54 loss, OU falls to 16-10 on the season, and 6-7 in conference play.

After a season of disappointing fan attendance and presence inside the LNC, Sooner Nation really came through and gave Lon Kruger’s squad the most electric home atmosphere its played in front of all year. It might not have been a sold out crowd, but it was loud and it was energized. Regardless of the final score, this level of turnout needs to become the norm at Oklahoma.

As far as standout players go, other than a three-pointer in the early going of the night, it was a slow boil for senior forward Kristian Doolittle against the top team in the nation. However by the end of the game, the reigning Big 12 Player of the Week showed why he’s the most formidable Sooner whenever he’s on the court. In total, the Edmond native led his team with 18 points, 10 rebounds and a pair of steals.

In the first half, Oklahoma was off to a great start, jumping out to an early 10-5 lead. Then over the next 11 minutes and change of game time, Baylor went on a 23-5 run that saw its lead balloon as high as 13. And to be completely honest, it felt even worse than that for the Sooners. The Bears forced OU into a series of awful offensive possessions, smothering ball handlers and shrinking any passing lanes with their length and athleticism. Then the tide slowly turned down the stretch just when it seemed the game had slipped away from the home underdogs, who answered with a 9-0 run thanks to a Jalen Hill bucket and seven straight from junior forward Brady Manek. BU’s once steep lead would shrink to a manageable 30-24 advantage going into the break.

Oklahoma and Baylor rode the seesaw to open the second half, trading baskets back and forth with no team gaining ground or pulling away. Then the Sooners went on another small run that closed the gap to 39-38. However, that’s as close as the game would ever be for the remainder of the night, as the Bears finally pulled away for good with some timely outside shooting and more shutdown defense. BU coach Scott Drew didn’t have to sweat out the final ticks on the clock in this one like he did in Waco.

For Baylor, sophomore guard Jared Butler tied his Big 12-high of 22 points (including five made threes) to make up for what production was lost with the absence of junior guard MaCio Teague. This Bears team is ranked No. 1 in the nation for multiple reasons, with depth and experience being two of them.

Coming into the game, CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm projected OU as an 8-seed in the 2020 NCAA Tournament. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had Oklahoma in the March Madness mix as a 9-seed. If either of those bracketology reports are indicative of the Sooners’ current postseason standing, tonight’s result obviously doesn’t help their case, but it also doesn’t leave them on the outside looking in.

Next up, it’s Bedlam: Part II, and it’s a critical one as Oklahoma travels up the road to Stillwater to battle in-state rival Oklahoma State (13-13, 3-10) on Saturday, Feb. 22. The Sooners and Cowboys last clashed at the beginning of the month in Norman in a contest OU dominated en route to an 82-69 victory. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m. CT and can be seen on ESPN2.

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