By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer, Video by Nate Smith |Broadcast Reporter
No. 1 Baylor men’s basketball pulled out the 61-57 win after a late run by Oklahoma Monday night at the Ferrell Center. The victory came as the Bears celebrated the anniversary of the Immortal Ten, playing their first home game as the top-ranked team in the nation.
Baylor led by nine points with 3:10 left on the clock, and fans started to head for the exits, but Oklahoma ran off nine of the next 11 points to close the lead to two. With 40 seconds left, the Bears ran cross-court dribble handoff repeatedly to draw switches and left sophomore guard Jared Butler above the break with 10 seconds left on the shot clock.
Butler drove right and got stopped. He lost the ball and Oklahoma picked it up, sprinted down the court and found guard Austin Reaves for an open three with the chance to take the lead for the first time since the first half. But Reaves missed and senior guard Devonte Bandoo grabbed the rebound as he was fouled, hitting both free throws to seal the game.
The last play was indicative of Butler’s night as he scored just four points on 2-13 shooting with two turnovers. The two other starting guards, redshirt-junior MaCio Teague and redshirt-sophomore Davion Mitchell, picked up the slack, combining for 29 points while Teague shot 6-7 from the line. Teague said after the game the guards have a responsibility to pick each other up when one isn’t having his best night.
“[Jared’s] bailed us out of situations many times before,” Teague said. “It’s our job to bail him out of situations the same way he does for us. We just try to believe in each other and continue to play together.”
Redshirt-senior forward Freddie Gillespie and junior forward Mark Vital also dominated the glass to keep Baylor in the game on a rough shooting night. Gillespie scored 12 and grabbed a career-high 15 boards while Vital added eight rebounds to overcome the Bears’ 35% shooting from the floor. Gillespie said postgame that rebounding was in the game plan after their performance against Oklahoma State Saturday.
“I think part of it was at Oklahoma State, you know, we kind of got our butts handed to us on the offensive glass and defensive glass,” Gillespie said. “Coach Drew made a point to say go out there and if anything win the boards tonight, and that was kind of the focus for us.”
Overall, Baylor grabbed 43% of their own misses and 70% of Oklahoma’s, easily besting a bigger team in the rebounds column. The Sooners also committed three more fouls, leading to five more makes from the free throw line for Baylor.
The Bears will head back out on the road for the Big 12/SEC Challenge at 7 p.m. Saturday in Gainesville, Fla. against No. 35 Florida. The break from conference play will be aired on ESPN and can be streamed on the ESPN app.