Coming off of three straight wins to end the regular season, the Oklahoma Sooners still had some serious work left to do if they hoped to crash the NCAA Tournament party. Porter Moser’s guys were clearly up for the challenge, upsetting the No. 3 Baylor Bears by a score of 72-67 and putting themselves squarely in the conversation for a bid to the Big Dance.
The Sooners came out of the game looking like a team who had done a lot of homework on its opponent, spending the entire first half either leading or sitting neck-and-neck with the defending national champs. Unfortunately, turnover woes stuck again, as the Sooners committed 11 turnovers to Baylor’s one. A 33-27 halftime deficit wasn’t a hopeless situation, but most OU fans felt like this would be yet another valiant, losing effort.
If there’s one thing this team has shown us this season, it’s that they never seem to get down on themselves, and they responded by storing out of the gate thanks to some timely threes from Tanner and Jacob Groves. The latter, younger brother came up huge in the second half, scoring 12 of his 15 points on 4-of-5 shooting after intermission.
OU and Baylor entered the under-12 timeout tied at 46, but the Sooners found yet another jolt, going on a 9-0 run thanks to some borderline-electrifying play from the younger Groves, Marvin Johnson and Jalen Hill.
The Sooners were able to keep the Bears at arm’s length until Baylor press forced a pair of turnovers and subsequent bucks, bringing it back to a 63-62 OU advantage with 2:45 remaining. Luckily, Jordan Goldwire and Umoja Gibson answered the call, punctuated by Gibson’s and-one to make it 66-62 at the 48-second mark. OU would bring it home from there and pull out a signature win for the head coach.
OU is now squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble, and the win could conceivably be enough to do the job. However, a win tomorrow evening against the winner of Texas Tech-Iowa State would lock up a spot, and Moser seems determined to go even further than that. If OU can sustain the defensive intensity and keep the turnovers in check, this team might not be done making some noise.
OU will play at 8:30 p.m. CT (at the earliest) tomorrow evening, and the game will be one either ESPN or ESPN2.