Led by Devonte Bandoo’s 19 points and Freddie Gillespie’s late game heroics, Baylor (16-8, 7-4) knocked off Oklahoma (15-10, 3-9) 59-53. Baylor takes on Texas Tech at 1:00 on Saturday in Lubbock. That one airs on ESPN.
This felt like the second time in a week Baylor might lose after having a big second half lead. That made sense. King McClure and Makai Mason missed Saturday’s game. McClure missed tonight’s too.
Midway through the second half, Baylor led Oklahoma by 11. But Christian James made two 3-point shots, and the Sooners moved the ball pretty well. The Bears’ offense went cold, as Matthew Mayer took two ill advised shots. He played well in the first, but he didn’t play well in the second.
Bandoo came through though. Down 51-50, he got open and made a three. Mario Kegler fouled Brady Manek on Oklahoma’s next trip, but the 70% free throw shooter missed the front end of the 1-and-1.
Kegler was called for a flagrant one trying to block James’ next shot. He went for a block and apparently he was excessive. But the veracity of the rock was not in question. James missed both free throws, and Oklahoma immediately turned it over. In contrast, Mark Vital was fouled on Baylor’s next trip. He made both.
Baylor isolated Mason up 55-53 with 35 seconds. He missed a tough 2-point shot. Baylor’s best remaining player went 2-of-14 today. He finished with a career high eight assists, but his shot wasn’t on tonight.
Freddie Gillespie came through though. He outplayed the Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year on Saturday. And tonight, he grabbed a massive offensive rebound and made a shot with 35 seconds. The make gave Baylor a four point lead and secured a sweep of Oklahoma. This entire paragraph seemed utterly ludicrous to imagine two months ago.
The first half was odd. Baylor and Oklahoma were tied at 31-31 at halftime because of two positive things for Baylor. First, they shot 8-of-15 from three. Second, Bandoo was awesome. He had 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting from deep and finished the half +9—one of only two Baylor players with a positive point differential. The Bears had some problems in the first half. They went 2-of-9 from two and missed half their free throws. Mason, back after missing Saturday’s day with a foot injury, started 0-of-7. Oklahoma went 1-of-8 from three and 4-of-8 from the free throw line. A decent shooting half could have crushed Baylor.
This was a good win. Baylor shot very well—10-of-22 from three, and they did well on the offensive glass late, securing 11 offensive boards. But Baylor finished with less than 1 point per possession, well off their normal Big 12 leading offense. They found a way to win by making timely plays. Sure, Oklahoma only shot 3-of-16 from three. But Baylor’s missing their best and likely third best player. In their place, Jared Butler may be the Big 12 freshman of the year (he finished with 11 points and 3-of-6 from the line) and Flo Thamba had a magnificent block.
Baylor’s had to figure out wild ways to win. They did it again. If they can three more times before Selection Sunday, they’ll easily be in the field. That seemed unthinkable when this team was 9-6. Now they’re 16-8 and in second place in the Big 12.