Butler scores 22, helps No. 1 Baylor beat Oklahoma 65-54
The sophomore guard scored 11 of his 22 points during a crucial five-minute stretch in the second half, and No. 1 Baylor beat Oklahoma 65-54 on Tuesday night for its Big 12-record 23rd consecutive win.
“I get the confidence from Coach and my teammates,” Butler said. “When they call my name, it’s my job to make the right play. Everybody on our team has a role, and I think I play my role pretty well.”
The Bears’ win streak broke a tie with Kansas, which claimed 22 straight victories during the 1996-97 season.
“The amazing part of the streak is we’ve had different players step up each night,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “Nobody can be on for 23 straight nights.”
Many of the Bears’ wins have been close calls, including a 61-57 win over Oklahoma on Jan. 20. The Bears don’t care how the victories look.
“When you’re No. 1 in the country, it’s tough,” Butler said. “Everyone is coming at you. We stay tough-minded.”
Mark Vital had 10 points and Freddie Gillespie grabbed 10 rebounds for Baylor (24-1, 13-0 Big 12). Bears guard MaCio Teague, the team’s leading scorer in Big 12 play, sat out for the second straight game with a wrist injury.
Kristian Doolittle had 18 points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma (16-10, 6-7), which hosted a No. 1 team for the first time in 23 years. The Sooners entered 11-1 at home.
Brady Manek, Oklahoma’s leading scorer this season with 15.6 points per game, struggled to get open and finished with 10 points on 4-for-11 shooting.
“We tried to make it as difficult as we could for him,” Drew said. “He got a few good looks early but we were happy those didn’t go in.”
Oklahoma opened with a 10-5 lead, but Baylor’s tough defense smothered the Sooners for most of the first half. The Bears took a 28-19 lead before Manek connected on a 3-pointer and an alley-oop dunk to trim the deficit to four. Baylor led 30-24 at halftime.
Oklahoma trailed 39-38 and could have taken the lead, but Doolittle missed a 3-pointer that was a bit rushed. Baylor responded by scoring six straight to go up 45-38.
“Baylor is good — really, really good,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “I thought when we got it back to one, we were there. We had some empty possessions that we couldn’t get over the hump. When we needed a bucket, we didn’t get it. A lot was because (of) Baylor’s aggressiveness on the defensive end.”
A deep 3 by Butler put the Bears ahead 55-44 with about six minutes remaining.
“I was really pleased how our guys responded in the second half,” Drew said. “When the crowd really got into it, we didn’t panic. Guys continued to operate the offense. I was just following the plays Jared was calling.”
Baylor: The Bears were again unspectacular, but effective. They made just enough shots, won the rebounding battle and committed only eight turnovers.
Oklahoma: The Sooners have lost back-to-back games, to current No. 3 Kansas and No. 1 Baylor. Overall, though, Oklahoma has been strong lately.
The Bears put themselves in position to properly defend their No. 1 ranking Saturday against No. 3 Kansas. The Sooners might have garnered some attention from voters if they had won, especially given their recent win over West Virginia.
Baylor made the same number of shots — 13 for 31 — in both halves. The 41.9% clip was good enough because the Bears held the Sooners to 36.5% shooting.
Oklahoma guard Austin Reaves had cramps in the second half and played just 6:32. He went scoreless after the break and didn’t take a shot. For the season, he is Oklahoma’s No. 3 scorer at 14.1 points per game.
“He tried a few possessions, but it wasn’t going to happen,” Kruger said.
Baylor hosts Kansas on Saturday.
Oklahoma visits Oklahoma State on Saturday.