Flagler explodes for 29 in No. 10 MBB overtime win over OSU

Junior guard Adam Flagler tied his career-high with 29 points on 11-of-20 shooting and 7-of-13 from beyond the arc against OSU on Feb. 21 in the Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer

No. 10 Baylor men’s basketball was victorious, 66-64, in overtime against Oklahoma State University in the Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla.

It was the Adam Flagler show in Stillwater. In his first game back from injury, the junior guard tied his career-high with 29 points on 11-of-20 shooting and 7-of-13 from beyond the arc. Flagler added on four rebounds and three steals.

“Adam is a great leader, he’s a great teammate,” head coach Scott Drew said. “He’s somebody who really cares about the team and he wanted to play well, and we obviously needed him to. Credit the guys, they did a really good job getting him open with screens, and then they did a really good job getting him the ball.”

However, Flagler wasn’t the one to win it. It was senior guard James Akinjo, who, despite missing his first seven shots, hit the last-second go-ahead jumper to put the Bears ahead two with 14 seconds left. Akinjo scored or assisted on every Baylor point in overtime.

“I got him [sophomore guard Rondel Walker] on an island and it was game,” Akinjo said. “I knew I was going to make the shot when I got him on an island.”

With sophomore guard LJ Cryer and junior forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua out for the season, No. 10 Baylor (23-5, 11-4 Big 12) stuck with the six-player rotation against OSU (13-14, 6-9 Big 12) and won its seventh straight game on the road against the Cowboys.

Following Flagler’s 29, senior forward Matthew Mayer finished with 12 points and six rebounds and no other Bear scored in double-figures. The forwards crashed the glass, as freshman Jeremy Sochan and senior Flo Thamba finished with seven boards apiece. Baylor shot just 36.8% from the field, and 31% from three. The Bears forced their opponent to turn the ball over 17 times, the 36th straight game they forced 10 or more turnovers.

To start the game, Baylor got the job done on the defensive end, holding OSU scoreless in the first five minutes of play, jumping out to a 10-2 lead early on. The Cowboys responded with multiple big runs to take their first lead with four minutes left in the first half. OSU hit nine of their final 10 shot attempts and took a 36-29 lead going into the half.

At the break, Flagler led all scorers with 15 points, shooting 6-of-7 and 3-of-4 from three. Mayer had five points, four rebounds, a block and a steal.

“My teammates did a good job of finding me,” Flagler said. “I had a lot of wide open shots, so it’s just my job to knock it down. I had the easy part, so credit to them for the game I had today.”

Despite opening strong with a three from Mayer, the Bears went on a three-minute scoring drought to start the second half. Flagler’s offensive explosion kept Baylor in the game and his multiple deep threes helped the Bears retake the lead midway through. For the majority of the final five minutes, it was a back-and-forth contest, being a one possession game the remainder of play.

Neither team pulled away in overtime as it remained tight the rest of the way. Akinjo’s jump shot gave the Bears the lead with 14 seconds left and defended OSU’s final possession to win the game 66-64.

Up next, the defending champs return home for their rematch against No. 5 University of Kansas at 7 p.m. on Saturday in the Ferrell Center.