The payoff to an excruciatingly long final minute at Baylor was a possession that ironically ended all too fast for the Bears.
With Baylor having trimmed a seven-point final-minute deficit to two entering the last possession of Saturday's matchup with Oklahoma, forward Royce O'Neale drove from the right wing but an Oklahoma defender deflected his kick-out pass. O'Neale corralled the loose ball, but his erstwhile game-tying pull-up jump shot came a second or two late, sealing the Sooners' 66-64 victory.
Credit Baylor for fighting back from a pair of second-half deficits to make it interesting, but the Bears should have done better with their final possession considering how long they had to plan it. The final minute featured six fouls, 11 free throw attempts and five timeouts, three consecutively by Oklahoma as Lon Kruger sought to set his defense before Baylor's final possession.
Baylor may rue its inability to get a shot off because Saturday's loss leaves the Bears in jeopardy of falling into a big early-season hole in Big 12 play.
A team that entered the conference season with visions of dethroning Kansas in the Big 12 instead has started 1-3 entering Monday's road game against the first-place Jayhawks in Lawrence. The last two times Baylor has visited Kansas, the Bears have lost by 18 and 17 points, respectively.
The issues for Baylor on Saturday began with a 16-0 Oklahoma second-half run that turned an eight-point halftime deficit into an eight-point Sooners lead. Oklahoma had shot 23 percent from the floor in the first half and just 1 of 13 from behind the arc, but the quality shots the perimeter-oriented Sooners missed in the first half they made in the second.
Defensive problems are nothing new for Baylor this season. Though the Bears have been among the better scoring teams in the nation, their two-three zone has been ineffective against the better teams they've faced despite the length of the defenders playing it.
Iowa State shot an absurd 54.8 percent from the field in its 87-72 rout of the Bears to open Big 12 play. Texas Tech shot an even better 57.1 percent from the field in its 82-72 upset of the Bears earlier this week. And though Oklahoma's shooting numbers weren't quite so ridiculous Saturday, the Sooners got the looks they wanted in the decisive second half.
So now Baylor must regroup – and fast. Kansas looms Monday, and a 1-4 start to Big 12 play might force the Bears to lower their goals and just hope to play their way into the NCAA tournament.