NORMAN — If Oklahoma was jet-lagged by its weary travels earlier this week, it got over it quickly Saturday night at Lloyd Noble Center. Teams with tired legs don’t put on offensive exhibitions like the one the 21st-ranked Sooners did in their 88-72 victory over Baylor.
Instead they looked excited to be playing on their home floor after two straight road losses.
Good to be home?
“Yes, it was,” OU guard Isaiah Cousins said after scoring a team-high 21 points and grabbing a career-high seven rebounds.
It was one of those nights when scoring simply wasn’t a problem. The Sooners (18-6, 7-4 Big 12) shot 53.6 percent and were 14 for 29 from 3-point range.
They cruised to an easy victory on a night when they only scored 16 points in the paint and were 14 for 19 from the free-throw line.
Baylor (14-9, 2-8) couldn’t do much about it.
The Bears, who were ranked No. 7 when the conference slate began, but have now lost seven of their last eight games, just couldn’t keep up. It was a game of jump shots. The Sooners’ were falling. Those of Baylor, which shot 42.4 percent (25 for 59) and were 9 of 23 from 3-point range, were not.
“When you get four of five guys making shots, it’s very difficult to guard,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “We’ve had some pretty good shooting games, but this was probably as good as any of them.”
OU forward Ryan Spangler went scoreless, but OU led the final 34 minutes of the game and rolled to its largest margin of victory in 11 conference games.
Buddy Hield scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half, and Cameron Clark emerged from a scoring slump with 16 points on 7-for-8 shooting.
“Coach just ran a lot plays early where it was comfortable for me to catch it and shoot it. Guys found me in the right shooting spots,” Hield said. “I was able to pick my teammates up and keep it up from there.”
Baylor picked up 21 points from center Isaiah Austin and guard Brady Aslip added 12.
Still, the Sooners’ lead was down to five points with a little over 14 minutes to go. Then OU answered with an 11-2 run that put the game away.
Cousins ignited it with a 3-pointer — three of the 15 points he scored in the second half.
The Sooners shot Baylor out of its usual 1-3-1 zone in the first half. The Bears turned their focus to Hield, who scored 19 points in the second half of their meeting Jan. 18 in Waco, Texas.
It presented some opportunities for Cousins he exploited.
“It gave me the opportunity to attack more, be aggressive,” Cousins said.
That was the difference Saturday night. OU also seemed to have at least three hot hands going.
Tyler Neal, who finished with nine points, buried a 3-pointer during the 11-2 run. Je’lon Hornbeak came off the bench to score eight points — all in the second half.
“That was the tough thing,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “Buddy Hield got off to such a good start, Cousins took over, Neal jumped in. Different people carried them for stretches there.”
And OU looked a lot more like the team that won for straight before last Saturday’s loss at Iowa State and overtime setback at West Virginia Tuesday night.
“I like the progress we’re making,” Kruger said. “This group has done that consistently throughout the year.”
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