Video by Elisabeth Tharp | Broadcast Reporter, Story by Ben Everett | Sports Writer
The No. 9-ranked Baylor men’s basketball team defeated Oklahoma 60-54 Tuesday night in Waco behind a double-double from junior forward Johnathan Motley.
The Bears (23-5, 10-5) survived a second-half surge from the Sooners (9-18, 3-12) to snap a two-game losing streak and remain in the running for second place in the Big 12.
Baylor head coach Scott Drew said the game was defined by one thing, defense.
“If you like defense, you like tonight’s game,” Drew said. “Both teams defended very well. I’m pleased with holding them to 32 percent [shooting]. You don’t hold many teams to 32 percent [shooting] and 52 points.”
Motley propelled the Bears to an early 14-7 lead, scoring nine points on 4-for-5 shooting just five minutes into the game.
Baylor senior forward Ishmail Wainright grabbed the offensive rebound off a missed 3-pointer and dished it out to junior guard Manu Lecomte who connected from beyond the arc, prompting Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger to call timeout with his team trailing 19-7.
In his first game back from a four-game suspension, junior guard Al Freeman knocked down a jumper off an inbounds play to put the Bears up 24-12 halfway through the first half.
Motley said the team had no trouble fitting Freeman back into the rotation following his suspension.
“He fit right back in,” Motley said. “He came in and did what he needed to do. I know he’s happy to be back, and we’re happy to have him back.”
Oklahoma junior center Khadeem Lattin threw down a ferocious putback dunk to bring the Sooners within 11, but Wainwright rebounded his own free throw and drove the lane for two to put Baylor up 30-17 with four minutes remaining in the half.
The two teams exchanged trips to the free throw line for the remainder of the half with the Bears going to the locker room holding a 36-26 edge.
Motley accumulated 13 points and nine rebounds in the first half while freshman forward Kristian Doolittle and freshman guard Kameron McGusty led the Sooners with six points each.
Motley started the second half with a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put Baylor up 41-26, but Oklahoma responded with an 10-2 run to bring the game back into single digits.
The Sooners refused to go away early in the second half. A jumper from McGusty, a putback from Doolittle and a 3-pointer from freshman guard Jordan Shepherd made it a 49-43 game before McGusty snagged a pass and scored in transition to bring Oklahoma within four with 10 minutes left.
Baylor junior center Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. recorded his sixth block of the game which led to a three from Lecomte to give the Bears a 52-47 lead with seven minutes remaining.
Lual-Acuil Jr. tied a career-high with seven blocks, and he attributes it to the pre-game scouting report.
“It’s just the scouting report,” Lual-Acuil Jr. said. “The coaches do a good job of showing us the kind of tendencies the players have, so it’s just about about reading it and cutting it off as quick as possible.”
Both offenses stalled down the stretch, but Lecomte managed to draw a foul with a minute left and sink both free throws to put Baylor up 57-50.
With Oklahoma fouling to stop the clock, the Bears sunk their free throws en route to a 60-54 final score.
Motley finished with 21 points and 16 rebounds, his eleventh double-double of the season. McGusty led the Sooners with 13 points.
Kruger said he was proud of the way his team played in the second half.
“Second half we came out and fought,” Kruger said, ” but Baylor is good. Scott Drew does a great job. We fought much better in the second half, we just couldn’t get some shots to go.”
The Bears play Iowa State at 3 p.m. on Saturday in Ames, Iowa, as they look to sweep the season series against the Cyclones.