KANSAS CITY, Mo. —
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Four observations from Baylor’s 78-73 victory over Oklahoma in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament:
From up big to tightening up
The Sooners’ regular-season sweep was long forgotten once Baylor (22-10) built an 21-point lead early in the second half. Isaiah Austin had scored 16 points at that point, including a personal 7-0 run that included a 3-pointer and an alley-doop dunk to make it a 52-31.
Come on, this is Baylor we’re talking about.
Austin took only two more shots over the final 17 minutes—where did he go?—and second-seeded Oklahoma (23-9) began an extreme 3-point bombardment to mount a comeback. (How extreme? Try 20 long-range attempts in the last 17 minutes.) Seven of this 3s went down and OU pulled within 72-68 at the 90-second mark, but Baylor made 6-of-8 free throws to seal it.
“The first half was fun to watch,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew.
The Bears put up 35 free throws while Oklahoma attempted five. That’s no indictment of the officials, but rather a testament to the Sooners settling for 35 3-pointers (and only 31 two-point shots).
“I think they changed their game plan a little bit because we were blocking a lot of their shots and contesting a lot of their shots,” said Austin, who had five blocks.
Buddy Heild wound up with 15 points for Oklahoma, but he needed 15 shots to do it (including 3-of-10 from 3-point land.) Cameron Clark was 3-of-9 on 3s and scored 19 pointers.
Finally, an upset
With the conference featuring so much parity, this was billed as a wide-open tournament. But it took us until the fifth game for Baylor to become the first lower-seeded team to win.
“I thought Baylor played with more urgency,” said Sooners coach Lon Kruger. “Credit our guys for coming back and getting a look at it, but credit Baylor. They hit us first.”
Bears starting to sic’ em
That makes nine wins in 10 games for upward-trending Baylor, which appeared to have zero chance at an NCAA berth in early February.