NORMAN — Buddy Hield is fearless.
“I'm not scared of anything,” Oklahoma's freshman guard said the day after he and the Sooners held off Baylor and senior Pierre Jackson, the Big 12's leading scorer.
That fearlessness showed Wednesday night, when the Sooners won their fifth conference game, beating Baylor on the Bears' home court, 74-71. Hield's highlight play of the game came while he was being defended by Jackson. Hield cut across the left side of the court, did a spin move and put a shot off the glass to build OU's lead back to three points with 1:06 left.
Television broadcasters said Hield made it seem like the spin move is one he does every day.
“Just very creative and has good imagination and good vision on the floor,” OU coach Lon Kruger said about his energetic freshman guard. “He's just a really good, all-around basketball player.
“Made a couple big shots last night. One with a few minutes to go to put us up eight and one late there after they cut it to one. Actually a tough little runner there off the baseline ...”
It was just one in a list of big plays made by the Sooners, including multiple 3-pointers by Steven Pledger and a contribution from beyond the arc by junior forward Amath M'Baye. He started the game by scoring OU's first seven points. He finished with a season-high 20 points. M'Baye included a two-handed shot block the analysts deemed the “Not in your house” block.
“Really?” M'Baye said. “Two hands is better because you can keep it. Then it's almost like a steal.”
It was a statement game the NCAA committee look at when considering the Sooners for March Madness. OU (14-5 overall, 5-2 Big 12) is hoping to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four years.
Senior Romero Osby said it was a game the Sooners can learn from. The Sooners' team captain said Wednesday night's game showed the team can play for 35 minutes. But the last five minutes, which included turnovers and losing a lead, remains on the “things to work on” list.
“We can be really good, but we've got to continue to work,” Osby said of what he told his teammates after Wednesday's win. “Like coach said, we've got to embrace the grind every day and know that it's going to be tough. It's not going to get easy. Championships are hard to win.”
There's still a long way to go, including February, a month that hasn't been kind to the Sooners. OU has gone 3-21 over the past three Februaries.
While Osby said February has usually been a month of decline for the Sooners, he feels like they are setting themselves up for a month of positive production.
“Kansas State is a big game. Kansas next week is going to be a big game. Matter of fact, TCU is a big game,” M'Baye said. “If you win against Kansas State and you lose against TCU, you know? ... You've got to treat every game like a must win.”