STILLWATER – Nothing could pull Oklahoma out of its Bedlam funk, and as Wednesday wore on, the Sooners slipped deeper and deeper.
Buddy Hield scored 20 points in the first half and set a career program record for made 3-pointers, but he turned the ball over a career-high 10 times, including the final giveaway that ultimately set up Oklahoma State’s final – and potentially game-winning – shot.
Isaiah Cousins thawed a bit in the second half, knocking down 50 percent of his shots, and Ryan Spangler ignited Oklahoma in his own way – with a drawn charge, a 3-pointer and a defensive rebound. But Oklahoma missed three free throws in the final 90 seconds and failed to stop Oklahoma State freshman Jawun Evans, who scored a Cowboys’ Bedlam record 42 points.
The Sooners never got into rhythm offensively nor got out of their own way, but they still got out of Gallagher-Iba Arena with a 74-72 victory when Oklahoma State’s last-ditch 3-pointer clanged off the rim.
No. 2 Oklahoma was just good enough for the win, and that was enough on the road in the Big 12 Conference.
“Winning Big 12 games on the road is never easy,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. We feel great. We didn’t feel great about a lot of the plays we made. Winning road games in the Big 12: We’ll never get tired of that.”
After watching Kansas and Iowa State lose on the road in Big 12 play just a day earlier, Oklahoma (14-1, 3-1 Big 12) went on the road to a place where it had won two-straight games – and five straight in the rivalry. Playing at Oklahoma State’s pace, the Cowboys slowly chipped away at the 12-point halftime lead before pulling within eight points in the final minute.
Oklahoma, which failed to score 80 points for only the third time all season, went 3-for-4 at the free-throw line but committed two turnovers in the final 45 seconds to give Cowboys’ forward Jeffery Carroll the exact look he wanted for the possible game-winning 3-pointer from the wing.
Jordan Woodard, who went 4-for-6 from the line in the final minute and took all of Oklahoma’s last-minute free throws, couldn’t get a hand in Carroll’s face.
“In the Big 12, every game is going to be tough,” Woodard said. “You’re not going to get perfect basketball every game. You have to be able to just fight through the down times. We’ve got a good team that sticks together. We’re not going to play perfect basketball.”
And Oklahoma was anything but perfect.
Evans scored a career-high but Oklahoma State (9-7, 1-3) got back into the game because of a lack of focus from Oklahoma, which committed 19 turnovers and has 39 in the last two games with West Virginia coming to Norman on Saturday.
Hield was at the center of that, transforming from 8-for-10 for 20 points in the first half to three times as many turnovers as made baskets in the second half. Hield went 2-for-7 in the second half, taking only 3-point shots.
“They were more aggressive,” said Hield, who still became the first Oklahoma player to score 20-plus points in nine-straight games since Stacey King in 1988-89. “I’ve just got to do a better job. I didn’t really let the game come to me like I did in the first half. I created too many turnovers and let it get them get the better of me.”
The Sooners then crumbled in the final minute, never losing their lead but almost giving it away as Carroll’s shot just barely missed as the buzzer sounded. Oklahoma won’t lose points for its narrow victory Wednesday but it got a serious scare.
Winning on the road in the Big 12 won’t come easy, but Oklahoma didn’t have to fully learn that the hard way.
“We didn’t handle the last minute very well,” Kruger said. “Certainly to win and learn is better than to not win. We’ve got to play a lot better.”