It's not often the smallest player on the court has the biggest impact, but that's what happened Saturday in Waco.
Drew Lavender, Oklahoma's 5-foot-7 point guard from Columbus, Ohio, scored five of his season-high 20 points in the final 45 seconds as the 25th-ranked Sooners held off upset-minded Baylor for a 65-61 win.
"Drew Lavender stepped up and played big tonight," said OU Head Coach Kelvin Sampson, whose Sooners extended their win streak over the Bears to 21 games. "He needed that for his confidence."
Oklahoma jumped out to a 33-27 halftime edge and then pushed lead to 45-31 on a Lavender jump shot at the 16:19 mark. But from that point on, the Bears went on an 18-4 run to cut OU's lead to 49-48 with 8:44 left in the game.
Oklahoma got a Taj Gray jumper and a Terrell Everett 3-pointer to push the lead back to six, but the Bears fought back again and cut the lead to 59-58 on a Tim Bush layup with 2:29 to go.
Kevin Bookout missed a jumper on OU's next possession and the Bears had a chance to take their first lead of the game, but Baylor freshman guard Aaron Bruce missed a jumpshot.
That's when Lavender took over, hitting a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left to push the lead to four and then two clutch free throws with nine seconds left to seal the win.
"I thought a big part of that game was the second half when we were up 12 or 14 when the under sixteen timeout didn't come until about fourteen minutes to play," Sampson said. "We had a chance to blow it out and get up by 18 or 20, and we didn't. They came right back at us."
Oklahoma had success going inside early to Bookout against Baylor's 2-3 zone, but they struggled in the second half as the Bears closed off the passing lanes.
Bookout, who scored 14 of his 19 points in the first half, was held to just five shots in the second half, while forward Taj Gray only took three shots in the last 20 minutes.
"We struggled to get the ball inside, but they did a good job of denying the passing lanes," said Sampson. "A zone can be a great equalizer. When you get upset, or good teams get taken out of their rhythm, a lot of the time it is because of a zone. We just didn't attack it as good tonight.
"Taj needs to be more active against the zone, he has to know where to go, and that is part of the maturation process for Taj. When teams have thrown a zone at us, Taj has been a little bit lost at times."
Bookout led the Sooners with 10 rebounds. Gray finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. Everett finsihed with a season-low six points, but led the team eight assists.
With the win the Sooners improved to 2-0 in Big 12 play and 13-2 overall. Baylor dropped to 0-2 in conference play and 8-5 overall.
"This team is going to have games like this, but the good thing is that we won it. I've never ever complained or criticized a road win. We're 2-0 in the league and have a big road game on Tuesday against A&M."
Tip-off for Tuesday's game against A&M in College Station is set for 8 p.m.
OU-Baylor Box Score
Lavender leads OU past Baylor in Waco
Sooners Illustrated Top Stories
Kundarrius Taylor commits to SoonersOU is not done yet Friday, adding a second commitment following the pledge of wide receiver Kundarrius Taylor.
Sooners IllustratedYesterday at 4:02 PM
2019 TE Austin Stogner commits to OUOU's #NewWave19 is back as Austin Stogner commits to Sooners.
Sooners IllustratedYesterday at 9:13 AM
Sooner Intel: Ron Tatum locked with SoonersIntel returns with an update on OU commit Ron Tatum.
Sooners IllustratedYesterday at 6:41 AM
Sooner Intel: Tanner Mordecai set with RileyIntel returns with an update on OU commit Tanner Mordecai.
Sooners IllustratedYesterday at 6:38 AM
Sooner Intel: Tramonda Moore finally a SoonerIntel returns with an update on NEW OU commit Tramonda Moore.
Sooners IllustratedYesterday at 6:35 AM