You can fault Baylor basketball for many things this season, but their effort has not been the problem.
The Bears pulled one of the most impressive comebacks of the season, but came just short in a 73-71 loss to No. 6 Oklahoma on Tuesday night in Norman, Okla.
With just over eight minutes left in the game, Baylor seemed devoid of momentum or hope. The Bears trailed 65-47 and had trailed by as much as 26 after a brutal start. However, the Bears used a wild 21-2 run to get right back into the game.
The Bears just made a few too many mistakes late: a missed shot here, a turnover there. Even so, Baylor was just seconds away from winning.
Taurean Prince and King McClure scored 17 points each, which Al Freeman added 10 on eight shots. Buddy Hield scored 23 points on his senior night in Norman.
This game was lost within the first eight minutes of the game. Oklahoma hit nine of its first 13 shots to take a blistering 26-3 lead over the Bears. Likely national player of the year Buddy Hield had 13 of the Sooners’ points over the stretch, as they hit nine straight shots as part of an 18-0 run.
Baylor did not make things any easier on itself. The Bears hit just one of its first six shots and turned the ball over eight times in six minutes. The Bears shot 33.3 percent from the field overall in the first half and 2-for-11 from the 3-point line. In fact, Baylor turned the ball over on 32.4 percent of its possessions and scored on just 35.3 percent.
After the opening stretch, Baylor’s defense clamped down. Over the last 32 minutes of the game, the Bears outscored Oklahoma 68-47 and held them to just 37 percent from the field and 30.4 percent from the 3-point line. The Sooners scored on just 33.3 percent of their possessions in the second half.
This proves, Baylor has the tools to shut teams down defensively. Part of Oklahoma’s 3-for-11 3-point stretch in the second half has to do with shooters cooling down, but the Bears also contested much harder on all the shots.
Baylor now has had late leads against No. 1 Kansas and No. 6 Oklahoma that were lost in the final seconds in the past week. It certainly is an improvement from the opening games – the Bears were blown out in the first game against both teams.
However, this team is past the point of moral victories. Results need to come, and need to come quick. There is only one game remaining in the regular season, against No. 10 West Virginia, and then it’s the Big 12 tournament.
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After the past two games, Scott Drew has plenty of film to work with to try and build the defense. It will need to start at 1 p.m. Saturday in Waco, as the Bears take on West Virginia. This will be senior day for Taurean Prince, Lester Medford, Rico Gathers, John Heard and Austin Mills.