The Oklahoma Sooners dug themselves a hole they couldn’t get out of against one of the nation’s best.
Hitting the road against the No. 2 Baylor Bears on Wednesday night, the Sooners fell to a 16-2 deficit early and failed to recover, ultimately losing 76-61.
“Got off to a horrible start, fighting uphill from that point on,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. “(Baylor’s) really good. A lot of weapons, but we got to play better that we did to have a chance to compete with that high of a level.”
After stumbling out of the gate, the Sooners never quit.
Forcing 13 turnovers, OU tried to lean on its defense while the offense sputtered (Oklahoma shot a measly 20.6 percent from the field in the first half). As they’ve done most of the season, the Sooners did a decent job converting turnovers into points in transition, at one point cutting the Bears advantage to just five points late in the first half.
Baylor, which leads the Big 12 in virtually every statistical category, responded by closing the half on a 14-2 run to take a 17-point lead into halftime.
The Sooners wouldn’t pull closer than nine points the rest of the game.
Kruger said the team was a bit deflated in the locker room with how they closed the first half.
“They knew they did what they had to do to get back into the ballgame,” Kruger said. “Definitely disappointed by the way we finished the first half.”
The inconsistencies from game to game continued for the Sooners.
Outside of Austin Reaves, it’s hard to project what kind of contributions the Sooners will get from anyone else on any given night.
Leading OU in scoring, Reaves finished with 19 points on 6-of-14 shooting, adding seven rebounds and five assists.
Brady Manek had a bounce-back game of sorts, though his start to the evening was less than ideal.
Sliding over to contest Mark Vital’s drive, Manek got the worst of the contact and had a hard fall. He had to be taken back to the locker room for examination and had to clean out a bloody mouth on the sideline before returning to the contest.
Upon his return, Manek was able to get back to his scoring ways. The senior finished with 12 points (including shooting 2-of-5 from deep), three rebounds and an assist. Manek had been held to single-digit scoring outputs in Oklahoma’s previous two games.
“I thought he came out in the second half and did things that he needed to do much better,” Kruger said. “That’s a good step for him.”
Transfer guard Umoja Gibson was unable to replicate his 29-point performance in his last outing. Returning home to Waco, Gibson was held to just five points (all from the charity stripe) on 0-of-7 shooting.
“I thought the shots he got were not as good of shots based on what Baylor did,” Kruger said. “I was disappointed for Umoja because he wanted to come here and play well. Obviously didn’t have one of his better nights, but he’ll bounce back.”
Alondes Williams had to play the role of third musketeer with 11 points (a season high), but the rest of Oklahoma’s production wasn’t enough for the Sooners to keep it close.
While OU boasts a deep roster, it's been inconsistent night to night outside of Reaves and Manek.
Oklahoma has to do a better job of moving the ball to create looks for one another to help improve that production from the supporting cast, Kruger said.
“Did a better job of that in the second half,” Kruger said. “We just have to be sharper.”
The road ahead doesn’t get any easier as the Sooners travel to Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday. The matchup with the No. 6 Kansas Jayhawks is OU’s fourth straight matchup against a top-20 opponent.
“It’s a relentless schedule as we all know we all have in the Big 12,” Kruger said. “We’ve got to keep working to get better.”
Tipoff between the Sooners and the Jayhawks is slated for 3:30 p.m. on CBS.