WACO, Texas (AP) — Baylor coach Scott Drew preferred to focus on the positive aspects of the defense after the ninth-ranked Bears had to hold on to snap a two-game slide.
Johnathan Motley had 21 points and 16 rebounds for the Bears, but they had to hold on after blowing almost all of a 15-point lead in the second half and not making a field goal over the last 6 minutes of a 60-54 victory over Oklahoma on Tuesday night.
“If you like defense, you liked tonight’s game, because both teams defended pretty well, or the offenses were pretty bad,” Drew said. “So, let’s go with the positive — great defenses tonight. I know I’m pleased to hold them to 32 percent (shooting). You don’t hold many Big 12 teams to 32 percent and 54 points.”
The Bears (23-5, 10-5), who had lost four of their previous six games, moved back into a tie for second place in the Big 12.
Oklahoma used a 21-8 run to get within 49-47 on Jamuni McNeace’s jumper with 9:21 left. But Manu Lecomte then hit consecutive 3-pointers for the Bears, though those were more than 2 minutes apart and their last field goals.
“That was huge. We know Manu is a big shot maker,” Motley said. “When we need a big shot out of him, we know Manu is going to take it and make it.”
Lecomte, who finished with 11 points, had missed practice the previous two days after a loss to No. 3 Kansas on Saturday because of a sore ankle, as did lone senior Ish Wainright.
Jo-Lual-Acuil Jr., a 7-footer who had sat out practice because of a calf issue, had 11 points along with nine rebounds and seven blocked shots.
“Shoot, he almost had a triple-double. So, I told him re-injure it,” Drew said with a smile
Baylor stayed even with No. 12 West Virginia and Iowa State in the conference standings with three games left in the regular season. The Bears’ Big 12 title hopes likely ended with a 67-65 home loss Saturday, when were outscored 8-0 over the last 3 1/2 minutes.
Kansas, which is home Wednesday night against TCU, is one win from guaranteeing at least a share of its 13th consecutive Big 12 title.
Kameron McGusty had 13 points to lead the Sooners (9-18, 3-12), and was the only one of seven players who scored in their big run to make multiple baskets. His 3-pointer started the big spurt.
“Baylor got off to a great start, and then after that I thought we battled a little bit better,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “Second half, came out and fought much better, Baylor’s good, Baylor’s really good.”
Oklahoma: Kruger will have to wait until another game for a chance to get his 600th career victory. After an NCAA Final Four appearance last season, these young Sooners, with 11 underclassmen and less than two weeks after losing senior Jordan Woodard to a torn ACL, still have some work to do to avoid the team’s first last-place finish in the Big 12.
Baylor: The Bears again made things much harder on themselves than necessary, though they did hold on to win this time. Up 41-26 early in the second half following a 3 by Motley, the Bears couldn’t build on that momentum and instead were in a struggle.
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After Motley had a turnover in the final minute of the first half, it looked like Oklahoma was going to an easy basket on a breakaway following Kristian Doolittle’s steal. But Motley recovered for a huge block. McGusty had the ball and took a short jumper before Motley swatted the ball from behind and knocked it out of bounds .
In the Big 12 opener on Dec. 30, Baylor won 76-50. The Sooners were 20 points closer this time, even though their only lead came when Rashard Odomes converted a three-point play for a 3-2 lead 45 seconds into the game.
Oklahoma: Home against Kansas State, the alma mater of Kruger, a two-time Big Eight Player of the Year for the Wildcats in 1973 and 1974.
Baylor: At Iowa State on Saturday. The Bears beat Iowa State 65-63 in their first Big 12 home game Jan. 4.