Baylor comes alive late to grab key Big 12 win over Oklahoma
The depth of the Big 12 means every game carries great weight. With only 2.5 games separating eight teams in the standings, Saturday's matchup between No. 19 Oklahoma and No. 22 Baylor was a chance for both teams to show they are still contenders.
The two teams met once already on Jan. 3, a game the Sooners won by 10. The Bears flipped the script on Saturday by grinding out a 69-58 home win, led by 17 points from junior guard Lester Medford.
The game was scrappy from the start, with Oklahoma taking more than 11 minutes to score 12 points as Baylor jumped out to an 18-10 lead. A 6-0 run by the Sooners late in the half brought the deficit to 27-24, but a three by Kenny Chery with 10 seconds left put the Bears up 30-24 heading into the locker room.
Oklahoma was playing catch-up for much of the second half before a three-pointer by Frank Booker tied the game at 40 with 11:54 left. The three was part of a 9-0 Sooners run that put them up four with 10 minutes remaining, looking like they might be poised to steal one on the road.
The turning point in the game came when Chery drained a three to tie things up again at 49, erasing the lead Oklahoma had been clinging to. A Rico Gathers layup with five minutes remaining gave the Bears the lead, before a three by Medford stretched it to five with just over four minutes to play.
Ten seconds later, Chery grabbed a missed three and led a fast break on the other end, which culminated in this thunderous dunk by Gathers.
Gathers had eight points on the day for Baylor, all of which came in the game's final 5:06. His presence inside was a key part of the Bears' late offensive explosion, which allowed them to turn a game that looked like it was going down to the wire into a comfortable 11-point win.
Chery added 13 points for Baylor, while forward Taurean Prince came off the bench to score 12 and Royce O'Neale finished with 10, hitting both of his three-point attempts.
Four players scored in double figures for Oklahoma, with Buddy Hield and Jordan Woodard leading the way with 12 points apiece.
The victory keeps Baylor (15-3, 3-3 Big 12) in the thick of things in the packed Big 12 (No. 11 Kansas is in first place at 5-1), splitting its season series with the Sooners (12-7, 3-4). It also came on the same day that Texas Tech, a team that was 0-6 in the conference, beat No. 9 Iowa State, showing just how deep the conference is.
The Bears will now hit the road to take on Oklahoma State on Tuesday, while Oklahoma will host the aforementioned Red Raiders on Wednesday.