Eighth-ranked Oklahoma State (16-5, 4-4 Big 12) was given all it could handle on its home court against Baylor (14-7, 2-6 Big 12) on Saturday afternoon.
Baylor was able to jump out in front and remain there for a good margin of the second half, but the resurgent Cowboys clawed their way back. Baylor's three-point shooting put it over the top, however, and the Bears emerged victorious by a score of 76-70, breaking a five-game losing streak.
Baylor coach Scott Drew was ecstatic over his team's performance. Per The Associated Press (via ESPN.com):
It was a big win for us. We needed a win. We've played well enough to win a couple games, and we haven't. And that's because the Big 12 is a great conference, and the margin for error is small. As a coach, I'm just pleased that the guys have stayed together.
Baylor with a HUGE win in Stillwater! Gary Franklin is clutch down the stretch as the Bears defeat #8 Oklahoma State 76-70. #BAYvsOKST— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) February 1, 2014
Baylor rode the hot hand of Gary Franklin late in the game when he was able to down a three with less than a minute to play, putting his team up by five. A steal and a quick two points later, and the game was iced.
Gary Franklin AGAIN for 3. Royce O'Neale with steal and slam. Baylor up 74-67, 37.3 seconds, 2nd half. #SicOSU— Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB) February 1, 2014
Franklin—who is not a regular starter—connected on three of his five three-point attempts and shot 4-of-6 from the field. His stellar performance ended with a total of 11 points, five assists and three defensive rebounds.
Franklin had this to say about his fine showing:
They were good looks, and they were late in the shot clock. They were blowing ball screens, so when I came off, I was pretty free. And then a big would step up, and I would just try to make a move to make him put his hands down, and I would let off a shot.
Baylor also relied heavily on Brady Heslip on the outside. He connected on six of 13 three-point attempts and shot 6-of-14 from the field for a total of 20 points.
A nice surprise for the Bears was the play of forward Rico Gathers, who came off the bench to put up an impressive 14 points on the day.
Oklahoma State found success with multiple members of the team contributing with big games.
Forward Le'Bryan Nash used his athleticism in the paint, shooting 7-of-11 from the field for 19 points.
With a focused Le'Bryan Nash in the mix, like he appears to be now, #Okstate is a tough team to beat.— Oklahoma State 247 (@OKState247) February 1, 2014
However, it was the duo of guards who were able to come away with big points for the Cowboys, as Marcus Smart and Markel Brown combined for 39 points. Unfortunately, Smart was not very efficient from the field, connecting on just three of his 14 field-goal attempts.
That type of inefficiency was partly to blame for the Cowboys, as they shot 46 percent from the field. The Bears were far more careful with their shot selection, shooting 51.9 percent on the day.
Even though Baylor committed more turnovers than Oklahoma State (16 to 14), costly turnovers by the Cowboys toward the end of the game doomed their comeback bid.
Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford explained his displeasure with his team's performance:
We can't feel sorry for ourselves, because it won't do any good. We have to weather the storm. These are tough times. Everyone goes through them. How we respond is important. For us to have success, we need to recover as a team. If we continue to play like individuals, we will continue to struggle.
Could not be a more fitting end to a painful 40 minutes of basketball at GIA than Marcus Smart being stripped by Brady Heslip.— David Ubben (@davidubben) February 1, 2014
Oklahoma State will try to right the ship on Monday against 16th-ranked Iowa State. Baylor will look to begin a hot streak against sixth-ranked Kansas on Tuesday.
Cory Jefferson, Baylor: B+
Jefferson led the Bears with 13 rebounds and added 11 points while shooting 50 percent from the field. His solid performance helped propel Baylor to an upset victory.
Brady Heslip, Baylor: A
Heslip was the go-to guy for Baylor throughout the duration of the contest. He was impressive from three-point range, connecting on six of his 13 attempts, totaling a team-high 20 points.
Gary Franklin, Baylor: A+
Franklin may have had the most impressive performance on the day. His hot hand late in the game was one of the biggest factors in Baylor's victory. Franklin connected on three of his five three-point attempts, including a perfect shot with less than one minute remaining in the game.
Le'Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State: A
Nash was very impressive in the paint against Baylor. He was able to use his athleticism to get through the Bears defense for a tough 19 points. He was very efficient, connecting on seven of his 11 attempts from the field.
Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State: C-
Although Smart came away with 15 points on the game, he was lacking efficiency as a shooter. He was only able to connect on three of his 14 attempts from the field and severely hurt the team's overall shooting percentage.
Markel Brown, Oklahoma State: A+
Brown really lit it up for the Cowboys on Saturday. He led the team with 24 points and was incredibly efficient as a shooter. He connected on nine of his 12 attempts from the field and went 6-of-8 from three-point range.