Grant Belcher, News9.com
NORMAN, Oklahoma – Lon Kruger couldn't have asked for much more from his Sooners.
But in the end, all the hustle, hot shooting and perfect execution in the world simply couldn't cut it against the No. 7 team in the nation.
OU dropped a 77-65 contest to the Baylor Bears on Tuesday at the Lloyd Noble Center that was much closer than the final score indicated.
The Sooners kept the game tight the entire time by attempting to neutralize Baylor's big men such as Perry Jones III and Quincy Acy, and doing a pretty good job of it.
Jones, likely a top 10 pick in the upcoming NBA draft, had his usual impressive night of 21 points and 12 boards, but the Sooners actually led in rebounding margin most of the game before allowing Baylor to edge them out 28-24 on the glass at the end.
OU forward Romero Osby was a large part of that effort, putting up 16 points, 11 rebounds (five on the offensive end) and two blocks.
Outside of Jones, the Sooners held the rest of the Bears' starting frontcourt (Acy and Quincy Miller) to just eight rebounds.
But even doing nearly everything right on the inside couldn't cancel out Baylor's hot shooting. The Bears shot 54 percent from the field, including 50 percent (9-of-18) from 3-point range.
It was one of those frustrating games for the Sooners where they were able to respond to every Baylor run with a run of their own, but were never able to close the gap entirely.
The Bears came out of the opening gate quickly, jumping out to a 24-14 lead after 10 minutes of play. They started 5-for-5 from 3-point range, but the Sooners were able to weather the storm and crawl back into it.
The Sooners began to force some misses and cut the lead down slightly to 35-30 at the break.
Less than two minutes into the second half, a jumper from Steven Pledger had cut the lead down to a single point at 37-36.
But despite plenty of valiant efforts, the Sooners never actually led in the entire game.
A jumper from Cameron Clark with 4:40 left got the Sooners back to within two points, but Baylor proceeded to finish the game from that point on a 15-5 run to close it out.
Pledger led the Sooners with 17 points, and Andrew Fitzgerald added 13 to go along with Osby's 16.
OU turned the ball over only eight times in the game to Baylor's 12.
The Sooners fall to 2-5 in Big 12 play with their second-straight loss (12-7 overall). Baylor snapped a two-game losing streak and improves to 18-2 overall and 5-2 in conference.
The path doesn't get much easier for Oklahoma, who is in the midst of three straight ranked conference opponents.
The Sooners will travel to Kansas State for a 6 p.m. tipoff on Saturday. OU beat the Wildcats in the first meeting of the year, 82-73, on Jan. 14.