OU blasts Baylor, 90-76
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Sunday, February 24, 2013
2/24/13 at 9:43 AM
Related Story: OU basketball notebook: Chipped off the old block
NORMAN - Baylor was so bad the coach felt the urge to apolgize. Oklahoma was in such control that the only thing to worry about was how many teeth Je'lon Hornbeak had lost (he chipped two, lost none).
It was more like 2003 than 2013 Saturday at the Lloyd Noble Center, the scene of OU's 90-76 not-nearly-that-close victory. Steven Pledger scored a baseline jumper a minute into the game, and the Sooners never trailed from there.
"An awfully good win for our guys," Lon Kruger said after his team's fourth victory in five games made it 18-8 overall and 9-5 in the Big 12 Conference. "The first half we were pretty good offensively and better defensively. I thought we opened the game focused."
Pledger had 13 points in the first 13 minutes as OU jumped ahead 29-16. Baylor cut it to 29-20, before the Sooners went on an 18-1 run over the final 5:42 of the half.
Pledger had 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting by the break.
"Just getting to my spots and hitting shots," he said.
Sam Grooms, making his second start of the season, had nine points and three assists at the half. Romero Osby had nine points and five rebounds.
Together, OU's three seniors finished with 59 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and three steals, marking the third straight game that trio filled up the stat sheet.
"I'm a senior and I want to win right now," said Grooms, who closed with a career-high 23 points. "I'm just going to do whatever it takes at this point in time."
Saturday, that meant making both of his 3-point attempts, 15-of-17 free throw attempts, handing out four assists and coming up with two steals in 30 minutes.
Of course, just about everything any of the Sooners did was right over the first 20 minutes. Baylor came out in a zone defense - a dubious decision considering OU came in a hot offensive team - before switching to a man-to-man with the score 14-8.
The Sooners simply stretched their lead to 22-11 after the Bears changed plans. There were two ways to look at this.
"Offensively, we have as many guys playing with confidence as we've had all year," Kruger pointed out. "Anytime you've got more guys playing with confidence, the better chance you have of making shots."
"I want to start by apologizing to Baylor Nation," coach Scott Drew said after his Bears fell to 16-11 and 7-7. "Worst job of coaching I've done this year in the first half. I apologize for the team's effort and lack of focus and intensity. Baylor deserves better than that."
As lethargic as the Bears were early in the half, they were even worse in the final three minutes.
That's when Osby yanked the ball from 6-9, 210-pound Cory Jefferson like a grade school bully; Baylor point guard Pierre Jackson threw a pass right to Pledger, prompting teammate Brady Heslip to grab Pledger at midcourt; and 7-footer Isaiah Austin barely caught iron on a 3-pointer right after Drew switched to a four-guard lineup.
This was Baylor basketball straight out of the post-Dave Bliss era, when the Sooners could take a 10-point lead by showing up for the layup line.
Still, with Grooms, Osby and Pledger all hitting their marks, and with Hornbeak shaking off his first-half face plant to add 13 points, OU was as good as Baylor was bad for a half.
The final 20 minutes, with a combined 36 fouls and 45 free throws, were sheer torture for everyone involved. The Sooners, at least, could take solace in having won the game in advance.
"This group has done such a good job of getting each other ready to play," Kruger said. "They've opened games with good energy, good focus. The older guys have done a terrific job of that from a leadership standpoint. It doesn't just happen. They have to prepare to make that happen each game, and they've done a good job of that.
"We have four more times where they have to do that."
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Original Print Headline: Sooners blast Baylor
Guerin Emig 918-581-8355
Oklahoma guard Sam Grooms shoots in front of a pair of Baylor players Saturday in Norman. Grooms scored a team-high 23 points as the Sooners won 90-76. SUE OGROCKI / Associated Press
Oklahoma forward Romero Osby scored 17 points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds in Saturday's 90-76 rout of Baylor. Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press