In a span of a week, Sam Grooms has topped his career high in scoring twice. The senior point guard made just his second start of the season and proved worthy of it, playing an instrumental role in Oklahoma’s 90-76 victory over the Baylor Bears Saturday afternoon and the Lloyd Noble Center. Grooms led the Sooners with 23 points, four assists, and two steals. His sudden scoring streak couldn’t have come at a better time for the Sooners, who are missing the spark of Buddy Hield who is sidelined due to injury.
Grooms wasn’t the only Sooner to light up the scoreboard, however. Romero Osby and Steven Pledger also had big games for the crimson and cream. Pledger poured in 19 points, 17 of which came in the first half alone, on 3-4 from long range, and also grabbed five rebounds. Osby, the model for consistency, scored 17 points on 6-9 shooting, grabbed eight boards, while adding two steals and a block. The trio combined to score 59 of Oklahoma’s 90 points, burning the Baylor defense.
Throw in Je’lon Hornbeak, who scored 13 points, and that’s four different Sooners to score double figures.
Perhaps one of the most interesting and perplexing stats from this game was the insane amount of fouls called. Between both teams the officials called a total of 57 fouls. Three different players fouled out and seven committed at least four fouls. I hate to dog the refs, but it was a pretty poor display of officiating—they certainly weren’t letting the players play. The ridiculously high amount of fouls led to 86 free throw attempts on the whole game. That’s a lot of fouls and free throws. The impact it had on the game was substantial. Grooms scored over half of his points (15) at the foul line, while Oklahoma can credit 39 of its points to free throws.
Coming into the game, it appeared Oklahoma was severely outmatched in the paint. Baylor boasted two post players of incredible size and stature, in seven-footer Isaiah Austin and forward Corey Jefferson. However, the Sooners used their quickness to their advantage and battled to outrebound the Bears by the slim margin of 38-37.
The Sooners started off red hot, quickly jumping out to a double digit advantage within the first six minutes of play. The damage was done from beyond the arc, Hornbeak was the first to strike, followed by M’Baye, and two successive Pledger treys made it a seven point lead just four minutes in. Sam Grooms later joined the three point party, extending the lead to 11. Overall, the Sooners nailed six of their seven three pointers for the game in the first half. It was raining threes in Norman. This three-point barrage led to a 47-21 Sooner lead at halftime.
In the second half, the game was much slower, partly due to the large amount of fouls. Baylor was able to chip away at the lead, getting as close as 12 with three minutes remaining. Those final three minutes felt like two hours, but the Sooners were able to hold their ground and grind out the win at the grueling pace. Oklahoma earned a season sweep of the Bears, as they also defeated Baylor in Waco earlier this season.
Next up Oklahoma will travel to Austin on Wednesday and try to keep the trend of sweeping ongoing, as they face the Texas Longhorns. Tip-off is set for 8 PM CST.
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