By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
OU took care of business Saturday, jumping out to an early lead and cruising to a 90-76 win over Baylor. Here’s some rapid reaction:
OU ended the first half on a dominant 18-1 run, turning a nice early lead into a 26-point blowout at the break. It was a offensive clinic from Lon Kruger’s Sooners, with perfect execution, matched by overall ineptitude from Scott Drew’s Bears, missing shots, committing silly fouls and showing visible frustration. A microcosm of the coaching matchup.
It was over when…
…Baylor’s frantic second half runs, which included a 13-2 push and a 9-4 spurt, were too little, too late. The Bears dug themselves too deep an early hole. And not even their superior talent or streaky point guard could shoot them out of it. The Sooners, like they’ve done all year, showed great poise and an ability to make clutch shots to close out big wins at home.
Star of the game – Sam Grooms
In the first 22 games of the season, OU’s seldom-used point guard had a combined 54 points, rarely playing and hardly contributing. His season-high before Bedlam last Saturday was seven. But in the past three games, with his role expanding after Buddy Hield’s injury, Grooms has nearly matched that 22-game scoring output, putting up 53 in the past three. He scored 18 in Bedlam, 12 against Texas Tech and a career-high 23 on Saturday against Baylor, including a 15/17 showing from the free throw line. Impressive work from the senior.
Other key contributors
-Romero Osby was his steady self, putting up 17 points, eight rebounds, two steals and a block. Just a calming presence.
-Steven Pledger was hot early and efficient throughout, finishing with 19 points on 7/9 shooting. Since the Baylor game, he has shot a scorching 12/23 from three.
-Je’lon Hornbeak had 13 points, five rebounds and two chipped teeth (which happened on an ugly fall in the first half). Gutsy effort.
What it means
OU’s NCAA tourney berth seems locked up. Now the drama’s surrounds its seeding. And Saturday’s win certainly helped them boost that, beating a talented but enigmatic Baylor team to sweep the season series between the two. The Bears, meanwhile, were considered a bubble team coming in and, when the latest projections come out Monday, will likely be on the outside looking in.
OU visits the struggling Longhorns on Wednesday with a chance to sweep the season series from its Red River rivals. Tip is at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.