WACO, Texas (AP)Adam Flagler glanced down at the stat sheet and groaned. James Akinjo didn’t even want to see the Baylor turnovers he knew were glaring on the page.
While the guards combined for 12 of Baylor’s season-high 20 turnovers, both also scored more than 20 points as the top-ranked Bears stretched their national-best winning streak to 20 games with an 84-74 win over Oklahoma on Tuesday night.
”It’s very tough, I don’t even want to look at it,” Akinjo said of the seven turnovers, even though he matched his career high with 27 points and had five assists.
”It really upsets us,” said Flagler, who had 22 points and five turnovers. ”We don’t really worry about the points, but we have the ball in our hands a lot, so when we are turning it over, we’re hurting our team. And that’s the last thing we want.”
The Bears still won, and coach Scott Drew knows his perfectionist guards will do a better job after watching film.
Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua added 12 points for the Bears (14-0, 2-0 Big 12), whose winning streak began with their six wins in last season’s NCAA Tournament on way to their first national championship. Baylor and seventh-ranked Southern Cal (12-0) are the only undefeated teams remaining from major conferences.
After the Sooners (11-3, 1-1) got within 77-72 in the final minute on a fastbreak layup by Umoja Gibson, their transfer senior guard from Waco who played three seasons at North Texas, LJ Cryer had a backcourt turnover. Oklahoma called timeout, but Flo Thamba then blocked Gibson’s 3-pointer.
The Bears made seven of eight free throws in the final 40 seconds, three by Akinjo and two each by Flagler and Thamba.
”We’re a tough team, a tough group of guys,” Akinjo said. ”We just fought, Give credit to Oklahoma. … We know in the Big 12 no one is going away.
Tanner Groves had 13 points to lead four players in double figures for first-year coach Porter Moser and the Sooners, who like Baylor shot 56% from the field (29 of 52). Jalen Hill and Gibson each had 12 points and Ethan Chargois 10.
Oklahoma had only three offensive rebounds, and 16 boards overall, and were outscored 19-0 on second-chance points.
”That definitely was a difference in the game,” Drew said.
”We came in here and we got crushed on the rebound. … That’s the story,” Moser said. ”I thought our guys fought. We played better defense in the second half than we did the first. I thought we did some good things offensively. I think that we put ourselves in a position to be in there in the last couple of minutes of the game.”
Flagler had a turnover on a charging foul with about seven minutes left and Baylor up six. The teams traded missed shots before a defensive rebound by Gibson. But after two missed 3s by Oklahoma, Tchamwa Tchatchoua made a layup while being fouled. Flagler had a putback basket on the missed free throw to stretch the lead back to 10.
A 3-pointer by Flagler ignited a 19-9 Baylor run in the first half for a 45-32 lead. That was a nearly eight-minute stretch during which the Sooners had five turnovers and missed consecutive field goals – three in a row – for the only time before halftime.
Oklahoma: The Sooners played only their second true road game, in the building where Kansas is the only opposing team to win over the past two-plus seasons (64-61 in February 2020). Oklahoma had made 13 of its first 17 shots when Groves rattled in a 3 with 5:26 left in the first half, and still trailed 37-30.
Baylor: The Bears have only the fourth 20-game winning streak in Big 12 history. Baylor set the conference record with a 23-game winning streak two seasons ago, while Kansas has two such streaks: 22 games in 1997-97 and a 20-game 10 years after that. …Baylor has also won 22 consecutive home games, and 34 of 35.
LOSING A TOOTH
Baylor forward Matthew Mayer broke his tooth in half early in the game, and it ended up in teammate Jeremy Sochan’s arm.
”I wonder if the tough fairy still works at his age,” Drew said.
Mayer was in foul trouble all night, but only seconds before his fifth foul blocked a 3-pointer by Gibson, then drove the court for a layup that put Baylor up by nine with 1:35 left.
”That block was huge,” Drew said. ”Pleased with Matt’s toughness.”
Oklahoma: Another Top 25 opponent, at home against No. 11 Iowa State on Saturday.
Baylor: Travels fewer than 100 miles north on I-35 to play at TCU on Saturday.
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