NORMAN, Okla. — Buddy Hield started Oklahoma’s 3-point shooting party, but it wasn’t long before a few of his buddies joined in.
The No. 21 Sooners rained treys all night as they buried a season-high 14 in an 88-72 win over slumping Baylor before 9,189 fans Saturday at Lloyd Noble Center.
The Bears hoped to begin the second half of Big 12 play on a strong note, but fell deeper into the abyss at 14-9 overall and 2-8 in league play. After going 12-1 in nonconference play and reaching No. 7 in the nation, Baylor now has to win seven of its last eight games to break even in the Big 12.
Baylor center Isaiah Austin scored a season-high 21 points, but appeared visibly frustrated.
“I’m going to be completely honest, I really don’t want to be here right now,” Austin said, referring to the interview room. “So all I’m going to say is my team, we still have faith in God and His plan for us. So that’s what we’re going to work on.
“It’s basketball, it’s not life,” Austin said. “It’s a privilege to play out there on that court. We’re thankful to be out there. Right now, things aren’t going our way, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to hang our heads.”
After pulling off a 76-70 win over then-No. 8 Oklahoma State last weekend in Stillwater, the Bears couldn’t make it out of Oklahoma with another win. The Bears’ zone defense just had too many holes to overcome Oklahoma’s hot shooting.
The Sooners (18-6, 7-4) nailed 10 of their first 15 3-pointers and finished 14 of 29. Hield led the way by drilling five of eight while Isaiah Cousins and Tyler Neal drained three apiece. Cameron Clark contributed to the Sooners’ torrid shooting by drilling two treys while Frank Booker added one.
Cousins finished with 21 points and seven rebounds while Hield scored 19 points and Clark contributed 16.
“Buddy Hield got them off to such a good start, and then Cousins took over and Neal stepped in,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “Just different people carried them for stretches there. It was tough to consistently get enough stops to really cause anything. I thought OU really shot the ball well and we didn’t defend very well.”
The Bears shot 42.4 percent overall and nailed nine of 23 treys, but couldn’t get enough defensive stops as they lost to the Sooners for the second time this season after dropping a 66-64 decision at the Ferrell Center on Jan. 18.
Sooners set tone
“Defensively tonight — man, zone — I don’t know if there was any answer,” Drew said. “I think they were just better than we were on the offensive end. And defensively, there wasn’t enough urgency maybe early on to make things tough before they were able to get in a rhythm.” Hield set the tone for the Sooners by scoring 14 points in the first nine minutes of the game. The sharp-shooting guard drained four treys during the stretch and also threw down a slam. With Clark scoring nine early points and hitting two treys, the Sooners opened up a 26-14 lead.
“We did a good job of moving the ball and focusing on getting good shots out of every possession,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “They don’t care who gets it. We got into a good rhythm. Their zone is so long and tough that if you’re not making shots it can be a long night.”
The Bears didn’t let the Sooners get too far away from them in the first half as Austin and Brady Heslip were hot outside. Midway through the first half, Austin scored six of Baylor’s eight points during one stretch that included a trey and two jumpers.
Austin converted a three-point play when he drove inside, drew a foul and hit the free throw to cut Oklahoma’s lead to 35-29 with 4:18 remaining in the first half.
Heslip and Gary Franklin followed with 3-pointers to trim Oklahoma’s lead to five before Neal drained a trey to give the Sooners a 43-35 halftime lead.
“We were working OK defensively in the first half, but they were still making shots,” Kruger said. “We were just a little more extended (in the second half) and had more awareness and readiness, and worked hard and got a hand up.”
The Bears managed to stick with the Sooners early in the second half as they cut the lead to 57-52 after Austin got loose for a slam and Rico Gathers hit a free throw with 13:09 remaining.
But following an 11-0 run, the Sooners stretched their lead to 68-52 with 10:25 remaining, and the Bears never threatened again.
Je’lon Hornbeak started the stretch with a drive to the basket and Neal followed with a trey. Neal came up big defensively when he blocked Cory Jefferson’s shot that led to Cousins’ drive for a basket.
D.J. Bennett blocked Jefferson’s shot and roared down court for a basket in the paint. Bennett then swatted away Austin’s shot that led to Hield’s drive to the basket as the Sooners blew out to a 16-point lead.
“We’re not that explosive offensively,” Drew said. “If you look at our shooting percentage in the Big 12, we’re not as good as we’ve been in the past or we were in the nonconference. So, it’s harder to come back from margins.”