Winning on the road is a difficult proposition for any college basketball team. Winning on the road in the Big 12 this year will be extremely difficult. The 22nd ranked Baylor Bears, in their Big 12 opener, went on the road to Norman, OK to take on the 18th ranked Oklahoma Sooners. Despite 24 points from freshman post Jonathan Motley, the Baylor Bears fell 73-63.
The first 18 minutes of action for the Baylor Bears and Oklahoma Sooners was pretty basketball. Few turnovers, even fewer whistles and some nice passing and shooting. The score was tied at 33, as the lead had gone back and forth between the two teams. The Bears were sharing the ball well, getting it inside to Jonathan Motley early, and then finding Taurean Prince open behind the arc later.
A 4-0 run to end the first half gave Oklahoma a 37-33 lead going into halftime. The Bears would never tie it up again, only cutting it to a 2 point deficit early in the half. A 7-minute field goal drought doomed the Bears in this game, as the lead ballooned up to 12 points. The Bears missed layups, tip-ins and open 3-pointers as the Sooners also struggled to put many points on the board. This was a prime time to make a move, as the lead grew by just 7 points as Oklahoma one 3-point shot in that span.
With the offense not working, the Bears had to start pressing and taking more chances on defense, which gave the Sooners, usually Buddy Hield or TaShawn Thomas, good looks. With the Sooners passing ability tearing up the baseline of the Bears zone defense, Oklahoma was able to put more points on the Bears this year than any other team. The Bears was holding opponents to 55 points per game, but could not slow down the Sooners.
Key Stats of the Game
-Outside of Taurean Prince and Jonathan Motley, the Bears scored 22 points on 7-35 shooting (20%)
-Baylor went 7:26 without converting a field goal in the second half
-Oklahoma was 21-24 from the free throw line, while the Bears were just 12-18
-TaShawn Thomas and Jonathan Motley were the definition of efficient. Thomas made 11 of 17 shots with Motley being even better making 9 of 12. Both scored 24 points
-The Bears finished without a blocked shot for the first time all season
Player of the Game
Jonathan Motley (24 points on 9-12 shooting, 6-8 from the FT line, 4 rebounds)
The redshirt freshman continued his strong play, leading the Bears in scoring and really carrying the offense for most of the game. Motley overpowered the Sooners posts, primarily Ryan Spangler who is a good defensive player. Motley used a face up game, his low-post game, and even some good off the ball movement to get great looks. He was strong with the ball and decisive in his actions. If the Bears can continue to get that out of Motley, they will be in very good shape this year, assuming he gets enough help.