Oklahoma Sooners win Big 12 hoops opener, 73-63, over Baylor Bears


TaShawn Thomas made his Big 12 debut count.

The transfer from Houston scored 24 points shooting 11-of-17 from the field. He also pulled down eight rebounds. Thomas was the catalyst throughout the game, scoring 12 points in each half.

The Sooners (10-3, 1-0) won their Big 12 opener for the third consecutive year with a 73-63 win over No. 22 Baylor (11-2, 0-1).

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Baylor jumped out to their largest lead at 23-16 with just over eight minutes until halftime. The Sooners responded with an 8-0 run, which helped the Sooners surge into the lead with 7 minutes remaining in the first half. Back-to-back 3-pointers from senior Buddy Hield pushed Oklahoma to the 24-23 lead.

The 8-0 run capped in just 69 seconds is a nice pace against a very stingy Baylor zone defense.

The Sooners led Baylor 37-33 at the break.

Isaiah Cousins had 19 points and eight rebounds.

After a Rico Gathers bucket cut Oklahoma’s lead to 39-37 with 18:21 left in the game, the Sooners took over. They used a 7-0 run with an array of shooters to jump up 46-37, forcing Baylor to call a timeout.

The Sooners’ 73 points is a season high allowed by the Baylor defense all season. Baylor opponents were averaging just 55 points in their previous 12 games.

The Baylor’s zone defense can be a 3-point killer. They were allowing opponents to shoot just 28.7 percent coming into today’s contest. However, Hield and company had no time for that. They hit 8-of-22, 36.4 percent and probably ended up being the difference in this one.

Another Sooners momentum run put the game out of reach for Baylor. This time Oklahoma capped it via a Hield 3-pointer. Cousins then nailed one to play copy cat and Oklahoma led 58-46 for their largest lead with 6:24 remaining.

Hield finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, one board short of his career high.

The Bears were never really able to get any closer than eight in the final minutes as the Sooners hit their free throws to ice the game.

The Sooners now will travel to Austin, Texas to take on the 11th-ranked Texas Longhorns Monday, Jan. 5 on ESPN’s Big Monday.