No. 2 Baylor ready for challenge vs. Oklahoma


Baylor hasn’t been challenged much this season.

Before Saturday’s 11-point win at Iowa State, the No. 2 Bears had played just one game decided by fewer than 29 points.

“It’s been a long time since we played some stiff competition,” Baylor’s Jared Butler said after that win. “We said in the locker room, these are the games that make basketball fun, not the blowout wins. It was good for us to get a rubber-meets-the-road type of game.”

The Bears, who host Oklahoma in a Big 12 game on Wednesday in Waco, Texas, figure to be in tight games more often the rest of the way.

And that’s just fine with Baylor.

“Most people just know us as a team that showboats and makes a lot of threes,” center Flo Thamba said. “But we have the grind, we have the grit, we have the mentality of going 1-0, just being persistent and fighting through adversity. That’s in our DNA.”

The Bears (9-0, 2-0 Big 12) are the top 3-point shooting team in Division I, shooting 43.8 percent from beyond the arc. Baylor averages 11 made 3-pointers a per game.

The Sooners (6-2, 2-1 Big 12) will need to keep up with the Bears from distance. Oklahoma averaged 8.6 long-range makes per game, second in the Big 12.

But the Sooners are last in the league at defending the 3-point line, as opponents are shooting 39.6 percent from beyond the arc against them.

Baylor has won five consecutive meetings with the Sooners, their longest active winning streak against a Big 12 team.

It’s also the longest losing streak for Oklahoma in the conference. The Sooners have won at least one of their last two meetings with every other league program but Kansas, which swept two games from Oklahoma last season after the Sooners won the final meeting of 2018-19.

Oklahoma hasn’t won at the Ferrell Center since 2016.

The Sooners are facing their third of four consecutive games against teams ranked in the top 15.

Oklahoma lost to Texas Tech, which dipped to No. 18 in Monday’s poll, before beating then-No. 9 West Virginia at home Saturday. Oklahoma closes the stretch at No. 6 Kansas on Saturday.

For the Sooners’ Umoja Gibson, Wednesday’s game will be a homecoming.

Gibson is from Waco, and is playing his first college game in his hometown after playing his first three collegiate seasons at North Texas.

Gibson is coming off his best game as a Sooner, with 29 points, including making a career-high eight 3-pointers, off the bench in the upset over West Virginia.

After starting most of the last two seasons at North Texas, Gibson has adjusted to a bench role with the Sooners. He’s averaging 15 points per game over the last four after scoring just 19 points total in the first four games.

“He just goes about his business every day. He loves playing. He loves getting on the floor,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. “Early in the year, it took him a little while to get his feet grounded but keeps getting better and better.”

–Field Level Media

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