No. 3 Baylor Beats No. 17 Oklahoma State Despite Cade Cunningham's 24 Points

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2021

Baylor guard Matthew Mayer (24) drives the ball against Oklahoma State guard Avery Anderson III (0) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson)
Jerry Larson/Associated Press

Baylor is having one hell of a week. 

Two days after winning the school's first men's basketball conference championship since 1950 with a thrilling overtime win over West Virginia, the No. 3 Bears knocked off Cade Cunningham and Oklahoma State, 81-70. 

Baylor Basketball @BaylorMBB

🎬 Throw it down, 1-2! 🤯 @J_Hooper11 #SCTop10 #SicEm 🐻 | #TimeIsNow 🏀 https://t.co/hFwfwb2gw4

Worse for Oklahoma State than the loss was the fact that Cunningham limped off the court late in the contest:

Dick Weiss @HoopsWeiss

Oklahoma State elite freshman Cade Cunningham limps to the bench in final 40 secs, holding his ankle. Hate to see anyone get hurt this close to March madness. looks like a twisted ankle. We'll see.

Dylan Buckingham @DylanBuckingham

Cade Cunningham rolled his ankle. Didn't look good. Continues to test it on the sideline.

On the other sideline, Big-12 Player of the Year candidate Jared Butler and the Bears (20-1) continue to look like serious national championship contenders with March Madness on the horizon. They looked excellent at home against No. 17 Oklahoma State (17-7), which itself is fighting for a high seed in the NCAA tournament depending on the outcome of their appeal of a one-year postseason ban.

An NCAA tournament without Cunningham would be a major bummer for college basketball fans. One thing is for certain—Baylor will be in the tournament, and it will be a major threat. 


Key Stats

Jared Butler, BU: 22 points, five assists, three steals

Matthew Mayer, BU: 19 points, seven rebounds

MaCio Teague, BU: 19 points, five assists

Cade Cunningham, OSU: 24 points, seven rebounds, four assists

Kalib Boone, OSU: 12 points

Avery Anderson III, OSU: Nine points


Matthew Mayer Provided a Huge Boost Off the Bench

Butler, Teague and Davion Mitchell normally get the headlines. But Mayer was fantastic coming off the bench, with arguably his best performance of the season.

Baylor Basketball @BaylorMBB

📍 𝑳𝒐𝒃 𝑪𝒊𝒕𝒚 = 𝑾𝒂𝒄𝒐, 𝑻𝒆𝒙𝒂𝒔 ✌️ 𝑷𝒐𝒑𝒖𝒍𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏 = 2 #SicEm 🐻 | #TimeIsNow 🏀 https://t.co/rhLvtcXqke

Like the rest of his teammates, he's having quite the week. His 18 points, five rebounds and four steals were huge against West Virginia. He's playing some of his best basketball at the perfect time of year. He's a sneaky NBA draft prospect:

Jeff Goodman @GoodmanHoops

Matthew Mayer: The best NBA prospect on the Baylor Bears.

The Bears will go as far as Butler can take them, but if Mayer keeps playing like this, look out—these Bears might be unbeatable. 


Cade Cunningham's Big Second Half Wasn't Enough

Cunningham didn't do much early, with just four first-half points. But he caught fire in the second half and was the best player on the court, valiantly attempting to keep the Cowboys in the game. 

Fran Fraschilla @franfraschilla

You do NOT want to see @CadeCunningham_ in your bracket.

Sam Vecenie @Sam_Vecenie

It is my opinion that Cade Cunningham is good at basketsball

It wasn't enough, in large part because Cunningham just didn't have much help, with only Boone exceeding double-digit points. Being without the team's third-leading scorer, Isaac Likekele, didn't help.

Beating this Baylor team is no small task, especially in Waco. Doing so would have required a Herculean effort from both Cunningham and his teammates. The freshman did his part. The rest of the Cowboys weren't quite up to the task. 


What's Next?

Oklahoma State rounds out its season at No. 6 West Virginia on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET. Baylor does the same when it hosts No. 18 Texas Tech on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET (ESPN).