MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

OU

February 9, 2014

A plan that backfired: Cousins leads Oklahoma past Baylor, 88-72

NORMAN — Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins ruined Baylor’s Plan B.

The Bears, burned by 11 Sooners 3-pointers in the first half, extended their defense in the second half to stop the onslaught. Cousins responded by attacking the basket and scoring 15 of his career-high 21 points after the break to help No. 21 Oklahoma beat Baylor 88-72 on Saturday night.

Cousins, Oklahoma’s fifth-leading scorer for the season at just over 10 points per game, said the opportunity was right for him to carry more of the scoring load. He shot 4 of 7 from the field and 6 of 6 on free throws in the second half.

“My teammates wanted me to be more aggressive,” he said. “I just had to step up and do what I do — attack and try some scoring. It turned out to be a pretty good day.”

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said Cousins’ performance was a byproduct of unselfish team play.

“The guys have done a good job of moving the ball,” Kruger said. “We’ve been focusing lately on getting a good shot out of every possession. They don’t care who gets it.”

Cousins, a sophomore, also had seven rebounds and shot 3 of 4 on 3-pointers.

“Isaiah, I thought, was terrific all night long,” Kruger said. “He was making a lot of good plays and working hard defensively and rebounding the ball as well.”

Buddy Hield scored 19 points and Cameron Clark added 16 for the Sooners (18-6, 7-4 Big 12), who made a season-high 14 3-pointers and snapped a two-game skid. The Sooners shot a season-high 53.6 percent overall to bounce back from losses to Iowa State and West Virginia.

Isaiah Austin scored a season-high 21 points for Baylor (14-9, 2-8), which once again was competitive in a losing effort. The Bears, who spent the first three months of the season ranked in the Top 25 and cracked the Top 10, lost for the seventh time in eight games.

Baylor shot 46 percent in the first half but just 39 percent in the second.

The teams combined to make 23 3-pointers. Oklahoma took 29 shots from 3-point range and 27 inside the arc, while Baylor took 23 of its 59 shots from 3-point territory.

Oklahoma shot 64 percent from the field to take a 43-35 halftime lead. Hield scored 17 points in the first half for the Sooners, who shot 11 for 18 from 3-point range and had 12 assists to just four turnovers before the break. Oklahoma’s largest lead in the half was 12 points.

“When they’re 11 for 18 from 3, you’re feeling decent that you’re still in the game,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said.

Austin, a 7-foot-1 center, went 3 of 4 on 3-pointers and matched his season high with 16 points in the first half. He committed his second foul with 6:02 left in the half, but remained in the game and didn’t commit any more before the break.

Hield made five of six 3-pointers in the first half and drew extra attention in the second.

“Everybody was focused in on Buddy, so that kind of gave me an advantage,” Cousins said.

Hield said he was fine with deferring to Cousins.

“They started denying me the ball a little bit,” he said. “Coach Kruger did a great job getting shots for other guys. He found ways to get Isaiah going and found a mismatch.”

The Sooners still struggled to pull away. Baylor’s Rico Gathers converted a three-point play to cut Oklahoma’s lead to 54-49, but the Sooners bounced right back. A 3-pointer by Tyler Neal pushed Oklahoma’s advantage to 10, and the Sooners extended their lead to 14 before the Bears called a timeout with 10:48 left.

Baylor cut Oklahoma’s lead to nine before Jordan Woodard converted a three-point play with 4:58 remaining to help the Sooners regain control.

“OU really shot the ball well,” Drew said. “We didn’t defend very well. When we did defend better, they were on a roll and made some contested shots.”

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