SAME STORY: OU struggles late in 69-58 loss

Sooners collapse in late-game situations as Baylor cruises to 11-point victory

WACO, Texas – The scene is becoming all too familiar for the Oklahoma men’s basketball team: Another close late game; another Sooners’ loss.

Baylor had been in this situation before and come out on top. The only thing Oklahoma knows this season when the game is on the line is defeat.

The Sooners collapse didn’t come in the dying seconds, but their death Saturday afternoon was slower and almost more painful.

Baylor scored 20 points in the final 5:10, and Oklahoma, which came into the game with four losses by less than eight points, wound up on the wrong side of a .500 record after a 69-58 loss.

“We just have to keep working at it and keep getting better,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “We have to realize how important each possession is and finish opportunities when we get them. We came up a little short in that area (Saturday).”

Oklahoma, which fell behind early after a poor shooting effort in the first half, lost its final lead at 6:45 after a 3-pointer by Kenny Chery.

TaShawn Thomas was key part of the shooting struggles early – going 1-for-6 in the first half – but had a chance to change the game or the momentum at the very least. His wide-open dunk was blocked by the rim, and Oklahoma went 1-for-8 with two turnovers during the next 3:15.

By that time, Baylor (15-4, 3-3 Big 12) had a seven-point lead.

“We just have to find ways to grind and keep grinding,” said Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield, who finished with a team-high 12 points but went 6-for-17 from the field. “We’ve been struggling all these games in conference. We’ll get our swagger back, though. We just have to get back on board and start clicking again.”

Baylor scored on nine of its final 10 possessions, including a handful of fast-break points and crowd-roaring dunks. Oklahoma (12-7, 3-4) made just two shots in the final 3:29.

“On the road, you've got to be the one that hits first,” Oklahoma point guard Jordan Woodard said. “We've got to play better defense for 40 minutes. That's going to win us ball games.”

Woodard matched Hield’s 12 points with one of the best performances of the season for him. He also had six assists and no turnovers despite playing the entire second half with Isaiah Cousins on the bench nursing an injured right wrist.

Cousins’ X-rays after the game were negative. He is day-to-day for No. 19 Oklahoma, which has lost four of its last five games.

“I thought Jordan really battled through it,” Kruger said. “He went the entire 20 minutes and made good decisions and good plays for us.”

To open Big 12 play, Hield, Cousins and Thomas, who scored 10 points on 4-for-12 shooting Saturday, combined for 63 points in Oklahoma’s 10-point victory against Baylor in Norman.

This time, Baylor was able to contain Hield, who is leading the Big 12 in scoring, with a zone and a little extra help.

“Just prayed,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said of how they limited Hield’s output this time around.

Baylor, which has won 16 of its last 17 games at the Ferrell Center, snapped the Sooners five-game winning streak in the series by succeeding where it had been before.

Each of Baylor’s last four Big 12 games have been decided in the final minutes – each finishing in overtime or within two points in regulation. The Bears split those games – losing two, including a one-point loss to Kansas.

Oklahoma, which is 0-7 in overtime under Kruger, struggled again on a familiar stage. For the fourth time this season, the Sooners lost a lead in the final seven minutes.

“I feel like it'll be easier for us,” Woodard said. “Now, we know what we need to do.”

The Sooners had better learn soon. Oklahoma faces four winnable games against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, West Virginia and TCU, but pretty soon, those games could become must-win games.

“It's very frustrating, but we've just got to start off better especially on the road in the Big 12,” Woodard said. “ . . . We let it slip away, let them get some fast break points and it hurt us.”

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