by DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor
Baylor men’s basketball rallied in the second half to overcome their largest deficient of the season and beat Oklahoma State 81-66 in Stillwater, Okla. on Saturday.
Junior guard Jared Butler had another great performance, leading the game in scoring with 22 points. Senior forward Mark Vital also contributed a career-high 19 points and five rebounds.
“It’s been a blast being able to play,” Butler said. “My teammates have done a great job and Coach Drew has a lot of confidence in me.”
Butler has been hot from behind the arc in recent games, making a staggering 13-16 shots from three in the last two games.
“He’s ridiculous,” junior guard Davion Mitchell said about Butler. “He can really play the game of basketball.”
Despite not having played a game in 11 days due to COVID-19 protocols and missing freshman phenom Cade Cunningham, who was also out due to COVID-19 protocols, the Cowboys excelled early, playing a suffocating zone defense that the Bears struggled to figure out.
Baylor only made five field goals while racking up five turnovers in the first 10 minutes. The Bears were also poor on the glass, as they were outrebounded 23 to 12 in the first half, allowing Oklahoma State to have multiple second-chance opportunities.
Sophomore forward Kalib Boone led the Cowboys to a first-half lead, scoring a season-high 21 points on 10-15 shooting. Oklahoma State senior guard Bryce Williams hit a deep three to cap an 8-0 run for the Cowboys, giving them their largest lead of the game 34-25 with 2:21 left in the first half.
Baylor trailed at halftime 36-32 but used an explosive second-half run to take down Oklahoma State. Butler got hot making three consecutive three-pointers as the Bears went on a 19-1 run that spanned nearly five minutes and allowed Baylor to pull away.
“They played a lot harder than us in the first half,” Mitchell said. “In the second half we tried to limit their 50/50 balls. We tried to get out in transition and get those easy shots that we didn’t get in the first half.”
Alongside Butler, Vital was integral in the Bears’ run in the second half, especially defensively, where he and sophomore forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua recorded a combined six blocks.
Baylor head coach Scott Drew said the Bears did nearly everything better in the second half, which allowed Baylor to stretch the lead and put the game away.
“We defended, rebounded, got stops, got in transition, moved the ball better, all the above,” Drew said when asked what he thought Baylor did better in the second half. “You have to credit Oklahoma State’s first half. Great game plan and very physical.”
With the win, Baylor improves to 14-0 overall and 7-0 in conference play. The Bears will return to action against Kansas State at 8 p.m. this Wednesday in the Ferrell Center.