Terry Maston led all scorers with 23 points, while Jo Lual-Acuil contributed 17 and 11 to crush Trae Young and the Sooners by over 20 points in a must-win senior night game.
Baylor came out of the gate with exceptional energy. The defense shifted, collapsed, and forced turnovers and bad shots from Oklahoma all night.
The Seniors were especially spectacular. Manu Lecomte was under control all game, playing cool late in the shot clock and setting up teammates with excellent post-entry passes. He finished with 16 points and 4 assists. Acuil was aggressive early, as was Nuni Omot, who tallied 9 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds alongside excellent interior defense.
Maston was near automatic in the second half. Oklahoma let him get to his spots, and Jake Lindsey was phenomenal at get Maston the ball exactly where he likes it.
Oklahoma never cam close in this game. Trae Young finished the game with 18 points on a lackluster shooting performance, going 7-_20 from the field and 2-11 from deep. Christian James tried to make a push in the second half, but after a brief run, Baylor’s defense reasserted itself.
The game got so bad that ESPN’s commentary team debated the Houston Rockets’ chances against the Warriors in the playoffs.
After Oklahoma opened the game with the first five points, Baylor locked down on defense and methodically dissected Oklahoma’s defense. Trailing 8-6 at the thirteen minute mark, Acuil drained a three-pointer that seemed to spark the Bears’ offense for the rest of the half. Baylor would finish the half with a 33-10 scoring advantage to take a 39-19 halftime lead.
Acuil seemed to take pride in his senior night to start the game. He called his own number and isolated on the wing, driving against an undersized defender to draw the foul. He would score Baylor’s first 4 point with aggressive play and touch near the rim, and his stout defense anchoring the zone bothered Oklahoma immensely. Excepting two mid-range floaters from Young, the Sooners made only one shot in the paint and missed six point-blank shots. Acuil was a huge part of that. He finished the half with 11 points and 8 rebounds on 5-9 shooting and only 1 foul (Maston somehow earned 3 fouls in the first half and should have had 4).
Baylor’s defense in the first half was energetic, collapsing into the paint and bothering the ball all over the court. Oklahoma shot a paltry 20% in the first half, and Young was 0-6 from three.
For the entire first half, Baylor was more aggressive, more confident, and more energetic. The Bears took advantage of OU’s switch-heavy defense, giving Omot and Acuil good matches to attack in the mid-post. McClure took advantage of creases in transition to get to the hoop, and Maston was his classic, throw-back self.
It is hard to imagine there could have been a better senior night. All four seniors had excellent games and got to show-up the super star freshman for Oklahoma in what feels like a Tournament-clenching win. The significance for the program and the players themselves is monumental. Acuil, Lecomte, Omot, and Maston have a lot to be proud of. Tonight, they shined and gave themselves a chance for another NCAA Tournament appearance.