WACO, Texas (AP) -- Just as expected, Oklahoma beat Baylor. The
surprise was how close it was.
Oklahoma needed Drew Lavender's 3-pointer and two free throws in
the final 45 seconds for a 65-61 victory Saturday. It was the
seventh straight win for the No. 25 Sooners, and their 21st in a
row against Baylor."We'll have to grow up and learn how to step on people's
throats and go for it," Oklahoma forward Kevin Bookout said.The Sooners (13-2, 2-0 Big 12) appeared on the way to another
rout after making their five shots. Even after that didn't hold,
they stretched their lead to 12 points early in the second half.But Baylor cut it to 57-56 on Tommy Swanson's two free throws
with 2:39 left.The Bears, with Swanson as the only returning scholarship player
from last season, just couldn't get over the final hump. They cut
the lead to one two more times, but never tied or went ahead."I was worried about this game. Sometimes, kids get lulled into
thinking that they are better than they are," Oklahoma coach
Kelvin Sampson said. "Let's give Baylor some props."The Sooners haven't lost to Baylor since December 1977. Sampson
is 19-0 against the Bears and the first 18 were by an average
margin of 18 points.Plus, Oklahoma had won three of its last four games this month
by at least 30 points.Lavender, who had a season-high 20 points, hit an open 3-pointer
with 45 seconds left to give the Sooners a 62-58 lead. Tim Bush
responded with a long 3-pointer with 31 seconds left, the last
Baylor points."Drew had a lot of courage," Sampson said of his 5-foot-7
sophomore guard. "He is growing up, but he's capable of doing what
he did tonight," Sampson said of his 5-foot-7 sophomore.Baylor still had a chance to tie after a missed free throw by
Oklahoma. Aaron Bruce drove the baseline with 11 seconds left and
his reverse layup attempt ricocheted off the bottom of the rim.Bruce ended up in a scramble for the ball with Bookout. The
officials ruled a jump ball, and the possession arrow pointed to
Oklahoma. Lavender then made the two game-clinching free throws.Bookout had 19 points and 10 rebounds. But he didn't score
again, taking only two more shots after his layup with 10:27 left
pushed the Sooners ahead 49-40."They tried to limit our touches a little bit," Bookout said.
"When we throw inside, the defense has to collapse ... They were
sagging off a little bit and tired to keep it out of my hands."Taj Gray had 13 points and eight rebounds for the Sooners.Bruce, a freshman, led Baylor with 21 points and Swanson added
13 before fouling out with 2:14 left."With limited guys, we showed a lot of courage sprinting to the
end and making it a game," second-year coach Scott Drew said.
"This game showed that beating Purdue was not a fluke."The Bears, who have already matched their win total from last
season, shocked the Boilermakers 73-72 on Dec. 30."We have improved so much," Drew said.The Sooners led 11-2 after making their first five shots, with
three short baskets by Bookout and a 3-pointer by Lavender in the
first 3:13. But they then missed five in a row, including a blown
dunk by Bookout, to let Baylor recover.Baylor caught up at 22 when Patrick Fields hit a 3-pointer with
6:44 left, and tied the game twice more without taking the lead.
The Sooners scored the last six points for a 33-27 halftime lead.After Bruce made the opening shot of the second half, Lavender
hit a 3-pointer to start a 12-4 run. By time Lavender made a
floater in the lane, the Sooners had their largest lead at 45-33.