NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma beat a Top 25 opponent on Senior Night, normally cause for celebration.
The joy was tempered because the sixth-ranked Sooners squandered a 26-point lead before regrouping to defeat No. 19 Baylor 73-71 on Tuesday night.
Buddy Hield scored 13 points in the game’s first 8 minutes, but the Sooners fell apart in the second half.
"You can’t afford to do that, especially this time of year," Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. "Obviously, you get into tournament play, and one bad stretch can cost you and end it all very quickly."
Seniors Hield, Ryan Spangler and Isaiah Cousins have started 97 consecutive games together, and all three played key roles in pulling it out for the Sooners. Spangler had 15 points and 13 rebounds, and Cousins scored 10 points for Oklahoma.
Hield said he’s proud of the impact the senior class has had on the program.
"Coming in my freshman year, me and Ryan, Isaiah here together — how we grew so much and how our game evolved these last four years — now we’re having sold out arenas, so it’s fun, and I appreciate the fans sticking with us for four years and supporting us," Hield said
The Sooners (23-6, 11-6 Big 12) broke a tie with Baylor for third place in the conference and swept the regular-season series.
Taurean Prince and King McClure scored 17 points each for Baylor (21-9, 10-7), which outscored the Sooners 46-27 in the second half. Baylor shot 67 percent in the second half and made 6 of 10 3-point attempts.
"I was proud of our comeback," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "A lot of teams would have given up or not come back, divided. Credit our leadership, players for keeping everybody focused and keep them confident. I thought it was a great team effort to come back."
Oklahoma went on an early 18-0 run and roared to a 26-3 lead on 9-for-13 shooting. Baylor didn’t make its second field goal until more than 9 minutes had passed in the first half.
Baylor rallied to cut Oklahoma’s lead to 32-17, but the Sooners responded with an 8-0 run to regain momentum. The Sooners led 46-25 at halftime after shooting 50 percent overall and from 3-point range. Oklahoma scored 16 points off turnovers before the break.
The Sooners began turning the ball over in the second half and allowed the Bears back into the game. Baylor took a 68-67 lead on a layup by Al Freeman.
The Sooners regained the lead on a jumper by Cousins and a layup by Hield. With the Sooners up 71-68, Baylor turned the ball over, and Hield made two free throws with 17.5 seconds left.
McClure quickly made a layup for Baylor, then Hield missed a free throw, giving the Bears one last chance. The Sooners fouled Prince with 2.4 seconds left. He made the first and missed the second intentionally. Hield got the ball in a scramble, and time expired.
"Good win," Kruger said. "We’re not going to throw any back at this point. Obviously didn’t finish it at all like we need to and wanted to, but a lot of good plays in the first 25-30 minutes and we’ve got to keep doing that."
Former Oklahoma star Blake Griffin’s jersey was retired in a ceremony at halftime. Griffin was named the AP National Player of the Year in 2008-09 after averaging 22.7 points and 14.4 rebounds per game and leading the nation in rebounding and double-doubles. … Clark Beckham, last season’s "American Idol" runner-up, sang the national anthem.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
Griffin, talking about Buddy Hield: "To see his growth from his freshman year until now has been unbelievable. You can tell he goes about his game, you can tell he goes about life, in general, the right way. I think the team just kind of follows suit with how unselfish these guys are and how hard they play and how much fun they have."
Oklahoma shot 38 percent in the second half. … The Sooners had 14 offensive rebounds and 16 second-chance points.
Baylor: Committed 11 turnovers in the first half and 16 in the game. … Prince made 4 of 8 shots in the first half, but his teammates made just 5 of 19. … Prince moved from 17th to 14th on Baylor’s career scoring list. He has 1,241 points.
Oklahoma: Defeated Baylor 82-72 in Waco on Jan. 23. … Three other seniors were honored during the pregame ceremony — reserves C.J. Cole, Austin Mankin and Dinjiyl Walker. … Hield surpassed Darryl Kennedy and moved to fourth on Oklahoma’s career list. He has 2,099 points.