WACO (AP) – Pierre Jackson was scuffling with his shot for Baylor. Thanks to their big men, the Bears had time to wait for the Big 12’s leading scorer to finally get going against Oklahoma State.
Jackson finally hit two 3-pointers and made a tough inside basket in an 83-second span of the second half, and Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson both finished with double-doubles while combining for 11 blocks in the Bears’ 64-54 victory Monday.
“The interior defense with Cory and Isaiah … was really critical and crucial to the success. That allowed us to get some transition buckets and get going,” coach Scott Drew said. “And then when Pierre gave us that little offensive spurt, we were able to get some momentum in that second half.”
Austin, the 7-foot-1 freshman, had 10 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots for his seventh double-double for Baylor (13-5, 4-1 Big 12). Jefferson had 11 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks.
“Their bigs just had too big a numbers on both ends of the court, and they came up with the big rebounds,” Cowboys coach Travis Ford said. “We never caught a rhythm. At no point did we get on a roll offensively to give us momentum to give us that kick.”
Jackson had only five points in the game’s first 24 minutes before his quick eight-point spurt pushed Baylor ahead by 10 points. Unlike their double-digit lead in the first half, the Bears held on this time.
Le’Bryan Nash had 24 points for Oklahoma State (12-5, 2-3), including 10 in their 11-2 run going into halftime for a 28-27 lead.
A.J. Walton, Austin and Brady Heslip all hit 3-pointers in the first 3 1/2 minutes of the second half for Baylor, which never trailed again after that opening 10-4 spurt.
Jackson finished with 18 points, right at his average, while going 6-for-15 shooting including four 3-pointers. Before his eight-point spurt, the senior guard was 2-of-8 shooting and had taken only one of those shots after halftime — a badly-missed attempt on a 3-pointer.
“I don’t really think they had anything to do with me missing a couple of shots. It was just me not following through,” Jackson said. “I was just flicking it; I was just letting it go. Coach always preaches to me to hold my follow-through, and it will go in. He hasn’t lied to me yet, and I was able to knock a couple down.”
Neither Jackson nor Austin played in the Bears’ 107-38 win over Division III Hardin-Simmons on Saturday. Jackson was quick to point out that getting that break wasn’t to blame for his slow start against the Cowboys.
The Bears swept the season series against Oklahoma State for the first time last season, and now have their first three-game winning streak in the 70-game series.
Nearly three dozen NBA scouts and team executives had passes for the game featuring two of the Big 12’s top freshmen, Austin and the versatile Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart, the only Big 12 player who ranked in the top 20 in the league in scoring, rebounds, assists, steals and blocked shots.
Smart also had a double-double, with 12 points and 10 rebounds. He also had seven assists and two steals.
After Nash’s jumper with 17:48 left put Oklahoma State up 32-31, Austin hit his 3 and Baylor led the rest of the way. Jackson was way off from long range before Jefferson blocked a shot that Jackson came up with and passed to Heslip for a 3-pointer.
“I liked that stretch,” Drew said, with a smile. “And at the end of the day, players making plays.”
Jackson finally got on track with a 3-pointer with 15:37 left, then hit another from long range before a tough inside shot with 14:14 left that made it 45-35.
Before halftime, Baylor led by as much as 23-13 after a jumper by Gary Franklin.
But Nash scored 10 points over 4 1/2 minutes to put the Cowboys up 28-27.
The Cowboys had a quick lead when Smart made a 3-pointer from the top of the key on the game’s opening possession. They pretty much trailed after that until Nash’s two free throws with 1:50 left for a 26-25 lead.
Walton made a jumper to finally end a 4-minute scoring drought by the Bears, but Nash scored for the halftime lead Oklahoma State couldn’t keep when the Baylor guards starting making some shots.
“We talked about it all week, not letting them be comfortable. In that stretch, they just got comfortable and they hit some big shots at big key moments of the game,” Smart said. “They just hit those shots we usually lock down and don’t let them hit. … They came up with those big shots at the end.”
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