After dropping big road games against Kansas State and Kansas, the Oklahoma Sooners were looking for a big road win to hang their hat on against Baylor Wednesday night.
It appeared early the Sooners would cruise to an easy win, but by the end of the game, OU was happy to simply walk out of the Ferrell Center with a win as Baylor guard Brady Heslip's 3-pointer went in-and-out at the buzzer to give OU a nail-biting 74-71 win over the Bears in Waco.
The Sooners and Bears traded free throws in the final minute of the game, with Steven Pledger hitting a pair with eight seconds left setting up the Bears' final possession.
Baylor point guard Pierre Jackson missed a 3-pointer, but Isaiah Austin tapped the rebound out to Heslip, who was wide open in the left corner. The ball went halfway down, hit the backboard, and then hung on the front rim for a split second before falling off, causing Baylor head coach Scott Drew to flop to the ground in disappointment.
Amath M'Baye and Pledger each scored 20 points, while Romero Osby chipped in 11 points as the only other OU player in double figures. The Sooners shot 52.7 percent for the game, while holding the Bears to 37.3 percent, and a miserable 6-for-27 from 3-point range.
Jackson led the Bears with 22 points, but needed 21 shots to get there. Austin had a monster game, scoring 17 points and grabbing 21 rebounds, including 12 offensive rebounds. The freshman's monster night helped Baylor have a 47-34 edge on the boards, and an enormous 24-5 edge on the offensive glass.
The Sooners led by as many as 16 in the second half, but allowed Baylor to cut the deficit to five points with 3:32 remaining in the game.
Buddy Hield hit a 3-pointer and Pledger converted an and-1 opportunity to boost the OU lead to 67-56 with 2:44 to play, but Baylor responded, rattling off a 10-0 run to get within one point with 1:37 left on a Jackson tip-in off a missed A.J. Walton layup.
The Bears were able to force a couple of turnovers during the run, and M'Baye missed a pair of free throws that could have extended the Sooners' lead.
On the next trip down the court for OU after Jackson's tip-in, Hield hit a tough floater off the glass to boost the OU lead back to three at 69-66.
Pledger and M'Baye led the charge in the first half, with M'Baye scoring the first seven points of the game en route to 12 first half points. Pledger, after struggling in his past few games, hit three 3-pointers and scored 14 first half points of his own. The Sooners used a 15-2 run to open up a 14-point lead, and ended the first half up 38-26.
With the win over Baylor, the Sooners now have a much-needed impressive win on their NCAA tournament resume with a huge game against Kansas State in Norman coming up Saturday afternoon.