By Jeff Latzke
NORMAN, Okla. — After Baylor followed two perfect months with two straight losses, coach Scott Drew was glad to see his star player back on his game.
Perry Jones III had 21 points and tied his season-high with 12 rebounds, leading the sixth-ranked Bears to a 77-65 win over Oklahoma on Tuesday night.
It was Jones’ highest scoring output in 11 games, helping Baylor (18-2, 5-2 Big 12) bounce back after consecutive losses to conference leaders Kansas and Missouri, both also Top 10 teams.
“Welcome back, Perry Jones,” Drew said. “After he tweaked that ankle in Kansas, for a game-and-a-half I think that affected him. He had two good practices and mentally got right and physically has gotten better.
“He’s back to playing how he’s capable of playing.”
Pierre Jackson added 16 points and seven assists, Quincy Acy had 13 points and three blocks for the Bears, who shot 54 percent — their fourth time in the last five games to hit at least half of their shots.
They also went 9 for 18 from behind the arc, after coming in as the Big 12’s best 3-point shooting team at 41 percent.
Steven Pledger led Oklahoma (12-7, 2-5) with 17 points, and Romero Osby had 16 points and 11 rebounds.
The Bears led throughout but needed a strong finish to put away the Sooners, who were within 62-60 in the final 5 minutes.
“We got a little sloppy on defense and started letting them get a couple easy, open looks. We got a couple offensive rebounds and easy putbacks and really tied down on defense and started defending and rebounding,” Acy said.
“That’s going to be the key for us to win.”
It was only the second win in 18 tries for the Bears at the Lloyd Noble Center in a series that was heavily lopsided in the Sooners’ favor until recent years.
Oklahoma had won 30 straight games in the series from 1978 to 2009 before Baylor won three in a row. The Sooners then won at home and knocked the Bears out of the Big 12 tournament last season to regain the upper hand.
Jones helped his team pull ahead down the stretch in this one, putting back Jackson’s miss after Oklahoma had gotten within two points. Jackson’s three-point play on the next possession made it 67-60 with 3:28 to play.
Jones added another basket from the right block and then two free throws in the final minute.
“We’re a step away,” Pledger said. “I feel like we’ve just got to do something one more. We’ve just got to make that one more extra step, get that one extra rebound, box out that one time harder. We’re just one more step away from everything”.