King McClure had totaled 17 points over the previous three games, including just four on Saturday, but he kept working hard and felt like he had a lot of support Monday night.
McClure had a career-high 29 points, nine rebounds and four assists to help lead Baylor to a 73-69 victory over Oklahoma State.
McClure scored 20 first-half points and hit a career-best seven 3-pointers — six before halftime.
“It was really just credit to my teammates,” McClure said. “They started looking for me. That’s one thing about our group of guys, we really aren’t selfish. It’s amazing what you can do when you got a bunch of guys behind you cheering you on and excited when you’re making plays. They were looking for me and just credit to them for getting me the ball when I was hot.”
Jared Butler had 16 points and four assists, and Makai Mason scored 13 points, including a 10-foot jump shot with 9.8 seconds remaining to give the Bears a five-point lead. Mason also made two free throws with 3.7 seconds to go to seal it for Baylor (10-6, 2-2 Big 12). It was Baylor’s seventh straight win against Oklahoma State.
“King McClure obviously had a special game for us,” said Bears coach Scott Drew. “As a coach you love when your seniors get to have a chance. He had been struggling and spending a lot of time in the gym, and you love it when their hard work pays off. Credit to two teams that were really battling; a typical Big 12 game, it can go any way, who makes a couple free throws and who makes a shot.”
Baylor made 15 of 25 from 3-point range, including 11 of 14 in the first half, setting a new season high for made 3s before halftime.
Curtis Jones led Oklahoma State (8-9, 2-3) with 18 points off the bench, while Cam McGriff had his second straight double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
“Frustrating game in a lot of ways, mostly because the thing that we’ve been able to count on for so much of the season, our defense, is what really let us down today,” said Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton. “We had been defending the 3 really well and obviously didn’t do that at the level necessary. Our defense wasn’t nearly as good in the first half as it needed to be.”
After scoring just six points combined in his first three Big 12 contests, Jones has erupted for 33 total points in the last two outings.
“One of the areas that we’ve had some issues is with scoring and his reputation and his ability is as a guy who can make shots, so we’ve got to continue to find opportunities for him,” Boynton said of Jones, who played 18 minutes. “It’s a good thing that he’s coming along and evolving on the offensive end.”
Oklahoma State, which had won two in a row, also set a new season-high for made 3s, going 13 of 29.
The Cowboys went ahead 60-54 on Jones’ layup with 8:30 remaining, but Baylor went on an 11-2 run over the next five minutes and led the rest of the way. During that stretch, Oklahoma State went 1 for 12 from the floor, including 0 for 6 from 3, and made just 2 of 5 free throws.
“We just didn’t play with the aggression that we needed to,” Boynton said of that crucial stretch. “We played very passive offensively. They really didn’t do much different, they zoned a little bit more, but we were just very tentative.”
Jones’ layup got OSU to within 67-66 with 59.9 seconds left, but McClure sank two free throws with 44.6 seconds to go and Michael Weathers then missed both of his free throws for Oklahoma State with 39.6 on the clock.
Baylor: The Bears are still adjusting to the absence of starting forward Tristan Clark, who was averaging 14.6 points per game until suffering a season-ending knee injury last week. Butler, a freshman, once again started in Clark’s place after scoring 14 points with four assists in the Bears’ 73-68 loss to No. 7 Kansas on Saturday.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys haven’t allowed an opponent to shoot higher than 42 percent in their last six games, a streak that appeared in jeopardy when Baylor shot 48.3 percent (14 for 29) in the first half. The Cowboys managed to limit Baylor to 34.6-percent shooting (9 of 26) in the second half to bring its final percentage to 41.8 (23 of 55).
Baylor entered the day ranking second in the Big 12 with a plus-7.1 rebounding margin, but had just a 36-35 edge on the glass in this one. . Oklahoma State made its first eight free throws, but went just 4 for 9 from the stripe over the final seven minutes. . Both teams have had close games in Big 12 action, with all nine of their combined contests being decided by 10 points or less.
Baylor: The Bears have a difficult challenge as they return home to take on No. 8 Texas Tech on Saturday.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys go on the road on Saturday to play Iowa State for the second time, having already lost 69-63 at home on Jan. 2.