No. 12 Baylor Falls to No. 25 Oklahoma

No. 12 Baylor found themselves unable to put two halves together on the way to losing their third straight Big 12 conference game against No. 25 Oklahoma.

Junior guard Kenny Chery called Saturday's matchup against No. 25 Oklahoma a "must-win" in the competitive Big 12. For a half, Baylor played hard enough and well enough to win. But after a disastrous second half effort, No. 12 Baylor (13-4, 1-3) lost to No. 25 Oklahoma (14-4, 3-2) 66-64 in dramatic fashion.

This game was a tale of two halves, especially on the defensive end. The Bears did an excellent job in the first half of protecting the paint and defending the three-point line. The Sooners started the game shooting 3-for-17 from the field and 1-for-13 from the three-point line in the first half. Oklahoma also committed eight turnovers.

Baylor took advantage, but was unable to really capitalize on the strong defensive effort. The Bears shot 36.7 percent themselves and 2-for-10 from the three-point line in the half. Despite the poor shooting, Baylor took a 30-24 lead into halftime over the visiting Sooners.

After an opening dunk by senior power forward Cory Jefferson, Oklahoma scored 16 unanswered points on Baylor. The Bears would not score against until the 14:03 mark of the second half as OU took a 40-34 lead.

Baylor would take the punch and strike back with a 14-5 run of their own to take back a 46-45 lead over the Sooners with 9:06 in the second half. The game would be tight for a few minutes after that until Oklahoma went on a run to push the lead out to 65-58 with 29.8 seconds left in the game.

Baylor did not go quietly. Sophomore center Isaiah Austin hit two step-back three-pointers over Oklahoma defenders. Along with two missed free throws from freshman guard Jordan Woodard, Baylor cut the lead down to 66-64 with under 10 seconds remaining.

With 9.1 seconds on the clock, Chery tried to attack once before pulling out and deferring to junior forward Royce O'Neale. Royce took the ball and tried to get it to Austin for another three and the ball was almost stolen. The miscommunication and poor decision-making led to Baylor being unable to get a shot off despite trailing by only one possession.

Last year, Baylor had current D-League standout Pierre Jackson at the helm. Jackson won Baylor a lot of games and also lost his fair share of games. But when things got tough, everyone knew who the ball was flowing though, and that would be Pierre Jackson.

Baylor does not have a player to take over when things start going downhill with Jackson gone. There is no doubt that Chery has the talent to be that player for Baylor, but he has to step up to the plate. If Chery had forced the issue on the drive, maybe he wouldn't have made the shot. If you're Scott Drew, you have to be happier with that than the bungled possession that nearly resulted in a turnover and no shot with a game on the line.

Throughout the game, Oklahoma made a point to pressure the Baylor big men. Jefferson, Austin and sophomore forward Rico Gathers combined to miss their first five shots and to shoot 4-for-13 in the first half combined. Baylor's wings struggled to take advantage of the added pressure on the inside. The wing scoring will need to improve for Baylor to be competitive in the Big 12.

The loss in itself is not inexcusable, but the fashion in which it happened was. With the loss, Baylor has lost three straight Big 12 conference games. They go on the road against No. 15 Kansas next. Allen Fieldhouse is one of the most difficult venues to play at in college basketball. More likely than not, the Bears will come home with a record of 1-4 in the Big 12.

No. 12 Baylor basketball will play at Kansas at 8 p.m. on Monday night.

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