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January 31, 2013

M’Baye, Pledger set tone for Sooners’ big victory over Bears

WACO, Texas — After Amath M’Baye made his third-straight shot Wednesday night, the grin on his face widened. The same feeling shot through Steven Pledger after his first 3-pointer swished through the net.

It was their night and because of it, Oklahoma was on its way to a huge road win over Baylor. The feeling was still there after the Sooners held on for a 74-71 victory at the Ferrell Center.

Both scored a season-high 20 points to lead the Sooners (14-5, 5-2 Big 12) to their biggest victory thus far. Both knew they had broken out of offensive slumps in the process.

For Pledger, it was his first 20-point game of the season and the first time this year he played like one of the Big 12 Conference’s best shooters.

“It’s been a while,” Pledger admitted after going 6 for 12 from the field, 3 for 7 from 3-point range and 5 for 7 from the free-throw line. “I needed one, and it came at a great time.”

It coincided with M’Baye displaying a full offensive arsenal. The junior forward went 9 for 12 from the field in a dominant performance.

“I felt good. I’ve had games where I’ve felt better, but tonight I felt like my old self,” he said. “I put points on the board. I was happy to see all the work I’ve been putting in paying off.”

In truth, they helped the Sooners make the game look easy for the first 30 minutes.

Baylor was on the ropes most of the night. M’Baye and Pledger helped OU go on a 15-2 run late in the first half that built a 38-26 halftime lead.

“The guys did a really good job of moving the ball and setting good screens for each other,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “The timing was good, shots came in rhythm, and it was great to see Pledger step up there and knock down shots. It was good to see guys set the tone.”

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