WACO, Texas — Oklahoma went toe-to-toe with Baylor Tuesday night. It kept clinging to a belief that a couple of baskets; a couple of stops and a stunning upset was on the table.
It was there for the taking. The Sooners couldn’t grab it in a 74-61 loss to the Bears.
“The guys that played gave everything they had. They fought,” OU coach Jeff Capel. “We got ourselves in position where we had an opportunity down the stretch.”
The stretch arrived in the final three minutes. The Bears (12-3, 2-0 Big 12) took off. The Sooners (8-8, 0-2) stayed grounded.
Baylor freshman forward Perry Jones, who many believe could be a top five pick in this year’s NBA draft if he makes himself available, was too much for OU to handle. He scored 25 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and provided several of the “Wow!” plays the Sooners used to get from Blake Griffin.
“He certainly played like that,” Capel said of Jones.
There was little doubt Jones was the best player on the floor and OU tried to match up against a more athletic Baylor team shorthanded. Senior guard Cade Davis, who is averaging 13.1 points per game and a team-high 36.2 minutes, was in uniform, but did not play due to the death of his grandmother earlier in the day.
His teammates did elevate their games.
Steven Pledger, who was 5-for-10 from 3-point range, scored 17 points and Cameron Clark finished with 16.
“We know what he’s going through,” Pledger said of Davis. “We just had to come and play hard for him.”
Despite trailing throughout the game, effort wasn’t a problem for the Sooners. Four times in the second half OU had the Bears’ lead trimmed to one possession and only trailed by five with 6 minutes to go.
But OU couldn’t come up with the stops it needed or the rebounds to really threaten the Bears. Only a dominant shot blocker can alter a player like Jones’ path. OU doesn’t have one.