Cold-Shooting Sooners Fall To Baylor In Big 12 Tournament - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

Cold-Shooting Sooners Fall To Baylor In Big 12 Tournament

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KANSAS CITY, Missouri -

As good as Lon Kruger has been at Oklahoma, the Sooners were still looking for their first postseason win of Kruger's OU tenure Thursday night against Baylor. The Sooners will have to wait at least another week for it.

Baylor never trailed, building a 21-point lead and holding off a late Oklahoma rally to defeat the Sooners, 78-73 in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals in Kansas City.

Baylor (23-10), the No. 7 seed in the tournament, moves on to take on the winner of Texas and West Virginia, while the Sooners (23-9) head back to Norman without a win in Kansas City for the third straight year to await the NCAA selection committee's decision on Sunday.

It doesn't take more than a quick glance at the stat sheet to determine why the Sooners fell short Thursday night. Porous defense allowed the Bears to shoot 50 percent for the game, while Baylor also benefited greatly from a massive free throw discrepancy. Baylor went 23-of-35 from the charity stripe while OU was just 5-of-7.

The Sooners had seven free throw attempts due to a reluctance to challenge Baylor inside. The Bears have a decided size advantage over the Sooners, but it wasn't a major factor in Oklahoma's two wins over the Bears in the regular season.

Thursday night, Baylor 7-footer Isaiah Austin blocked five shots and altered countless others along with fellow frontcourt mate Cory Jefferson. Instead of challenging the Bears at the rim, OU settled for 3-pointers—lots of 3-pointers. Oklahoma finished with 12 made attempts, but took a season-high 35 shots from long range. OU took just 31 shots from inside the 3-point line.

Austin led the Bears with 18 points on a very efficient 8-of-12 shooting. All five Baylor starters scored in double figures with Jefferson adding a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds. Kenny Chery, Brady Heslip and Royce O'Neale all had 12 points, with O'Neale adding 10 rebounds.

Cameron Clark led OU in scoring with 19 points, 14 of those coming in the second half. Buddy Hield had 15 points, but was just 6-of-15 from the field.

Baylor set the tone right out of the gate, scoring the first 10 points before Hield hit a 3-pointer for OU's first points, 3:49 into the contest. The Bears could do no wrong in the first half, holding OU to just 38.7 percent shooting while shooting 54.8 percent themselves, including a 6-of-10 clip from 3-point range.

The Bears led by double digits for the last seven minutes of the half and led 47-31 at halftime.

The second half began no better for the Sooners, as Austin scored the first five points to push the Baylor lead to 21. Only then did the Sooners begin to mount some semblance of a comeback.

OU responded to the 21-point deficit with a 16-4 run, capped by a jumper by Tyler Neal to cut the Baylor lead to 56-47 with 10:33 remaining. Baylor pushed the lead back to 14 points, but OU slowly whittled away at the lead again. Hield's 3-pointer with 2:34 remaining cut the Baylor lead to 69-64. Another 3-pointer and a Baylor turnover left the Sooners down 72-68 with the ball and 1:22 remaining, but Jordan Woodard missed a wide-open 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining, allowing Baylor to seal the win at the free throw line.

Coming into the tournament, it looked as though the Sooners were fairly solid as a No. 5 seed for the NCAA tournament, with the opportunity to play up to the No. 4 seed line with an impressive showing in Kansas City. Now, it appears the Sooners have a ceiling at No. 5 and could fall to a No. 6 seed depending on how the rest of the conference tournaments shake out.

OU won't have to sweat out the uncertainty of making the tournament, but improving their seeding was a goal it was unable to accomplish in Kansas City.

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