No. 7 Baylor survives late surge, tops Oklahoma State 74-68 on the road

Feb 27, 2023; Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA; Baylor Bears guard LJ Cryer (4) and guard Adam Flagler (10) high five after scoring against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the first half at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

No. 7 Baylor survives late surge, tops Oklahoma State 74-68 on the road

No. 7 Baylor 74, Oklahoma State 68 

The seventh-ranked Baylor Bears (22-8, 11-6 Big 12) finished a season sweep of Oklahoma State with a 74-68 win on the road in Stillwater, Okla. Scott Drew’s team never trailed, silencing a would-be enthusiastic Gallagher-Iba Arena crowd from shortly after the opening tip. 

Baylor stifled Oklahoma State’s offense for most of the night, overcoming a 41-32 rebounding deficit by holding the Cowboys to just 9-for-28 from beyond the arc. 

Baylor forged ahead by as many as 19, led by 15 points from both L.J. Cryer and Dale Bonner. Jalen Bridges contributed 14 points and Adam Flagler added 13. A frantic late run by the Cowboys narrowed their deficit to single digits in the final two minutes, but it was not nearly enough to spring the upset. John-Michael Wright paced Oklahoma State with 17 points. 

Both Baylor and Oklahoma State entered Monday night’s Big 12 clash with plenty still on the line entering the regular season’s final week. While very comfortably in the NCAA Tournament field, Scott Drew’s Bears hoped to build momentum while potentially sneaking up to the No. 1-seed line. Oklahoma State found itself squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble, and after Monday night, the Cowboys (16-14, 7-10 Big 12) still have work to do to secure their bid. 

After Keyonte George suffered an ankle injury in Saturday’s win over then-No. 8 Texas in Waco, Baylor’s more veteran guards – namely L.J. Cryer and Adam Flagler – were tasked with stepping up Monday night on the road in Stillwater. Those two guards, holdovers from Baylor’s 2021 national championship team, scored Baylor’s first eight points as the Bears built a 12-4 lead at the game’s first media timeout. 

Baylor began the game shooting the basketball well. The Bears made seven of their first 12 field goals, including 3-pointers from three different guards, while Oklahoma State began the game just 2-for-11 beyond the arc. 

As the Cowboys began to battle their way back into the game midway through the first half, frustration boiled over on the Baylor bench. Scott Drew was issued a technical foul after aggressively protesting the work of referee Gerry Pollard, and Baylor went more than five minutes without scoring. Despite the drought, Oklahoma State could only cut the Baylor lead to three before L.J. Cryer’s floater made it 21-16 with seven minutes to go in the half. 

The Bears would re-extend their lead to 29-20 on L.J. Cryer’s 3-pointer with just over four minutes to go, and Adam Flagler drilled two straight triples to extend the lead to 15 moments later. 

Baylor entered the locker room at halftime ahead 41-30, in large part thanks to an impressive half of shooting. The Bears shot 55.6% overall in the first 20 minutes, and drilled eight of their 16 3-point attempts. Oklahoma State dominated the offensive glass 13-5, but made just four of 18 3-point shots and never led.

L.J. Cryer carried the Baylor offense in the first half, totaling 13 points. Cryer and Adam Flagler combined to make six of nine 3-pointers in the opening half. Caleb Asberry led Oklahoma State with eight points before halftime. 

The Cowboys narrowed their deficit to just seven on John-Michael Wright’s 3-pointer with 17:51 to go, but five straight points from Dale Bonner helped Baylor push its lead back to 51-37 before long. 

Baylor maintained a similar lead as the second half went along, seemingly squeezing the life out of the cold-shooting Cowboys with each passing minute. When Jalen Bridges drilled his second and third 3-pointers of the game with just under six minutes to go, the Bears’ advantage reached 63-46. 

Needing a spark, Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton employed a full-court press with five minutes to go. Much to the frustration of Scott Drew, it worked like a charm on Baylor’s usually poised backcourt. After a 9-0 run for the Cowboys, the Bears’ lead was just eight points with 1:11 to play. 

Jalen Bridges committed an offensive foul that disqualified him from the game with 46.9 seconds to go, sending Oklahoma State center Moussa Cisse to the bench with an apparent leg injury. John-Michael Wright drilled another 3-pointer on the following Cowboys’ possession, and suddenly Baylor’s lead was only 69-65 with 35 seconds to go. 

That was as close as Oklahoma State would get. Senior Dale Bonner, who scored almost all of his 15 points after halftime, made three of four free throws in the final moments to help ice the Bears’ win. Baylor escaped with a six-point win despite the Cowboys’ late surge, and discovered a clear area needing improvement in its press-break offense with March basketball right around the corner. 

Baylor will complete its regular season schedule on Saturday afternoon versus the struggling Iowa State Cyclones.

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