WACO, Texas - A week ago on the Big 12's Big Monday debut, Baylor had 13 shots blocked in one-sided loss at Kansas. The Bears were in a matinee in a Bigger Monday (four games on ESPN during Martin Luther King day) contest with visiting Oklahoma State and they proved they are apt learners.
Baylor was in lock-down mode at the Ferrell Center, limiting the Cowboys to 35 percent shooting while making two of Oklahoma State's top scorers nearly invisible. The Bears (13-5, 4-1) prevailed, 64-54, to keep themselves near the top of the Conference standings.
"It was a typical Big Monday game, both teams really getting after it defensively," said Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team prevailed despite shooting just 41.2 percent from the field. For the most part defensively we were goo and our interior defense was really crucial."
Baylor tied a Big 12 school record with 11 blocked shots. Cory Jefferson had six to go with his 11 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman Isaiah Austin had five blocks plus 10 points and 14 rebounds.
"Big Monday, everybody's watching, everybody around the nation," said Baylor's Pierre Jackson, whose personal 8-0 run gave the Bears a second-half edge they wouldn't relinquish. "You want to show everybody what you can do. At Kansas, we didn't do that. We wanted to show people what we're capable of, compete with the best."
The Bears' perimeter defenders also shackled the Cowboys' Markell Brown and Phil Forte who combine to average 26 points. They totaled just six points, missing 17 of 19 shots and all 10 3-pointers they attempted.
"Their top 3 scorers did what they normally do," Oklahoma State (12-5, 2-3) coach Travis Ford said. Asked if his team needs more from Brown and Forte to win on the road, he was succinct: "Yep, sure do."
Even with foul trouble and offensive struggles, Oklahoma State closed the first half with a 15-4 run. Sophomore Le'Bryan Nash, who finished with a game-high 24, scored 12 during the spurt that gave the Cowboys a 28-27 lead.
"My teammates gave me the ball in good positions and I was trying to be aggressive," Nash said.
Baylor had a 23-13 lead with just over seven minutes remaining in the first half but the Bears closed the half missing six of their last seven shots and the front end of two one-and-ones. The momentum swung back to the home team thanks to a - what else? - defensive play.
The Bears led 34-32 early in the second half when Jefferson blocked Oklahoma State's Michael Cobbins in the low post. Baylor turned the defensive stop into a fast break capped by Brady Heslip's 3-pointer.
Jackson then followed up with back-to-back threes and also scored among the tall trees with a lay-in after a pump fake.
"I liked that stretch," Drew said with a grin.
Jackson's 8-0 run gave Baylor a 45-35 lead six minutes into the second half. The closest the Cowboys came after that was a six-point deficit (53-47 at 4:38) that was countered by a Jefferson dunk.
Oklahoma State had shooting streaks missing 11 of 15 and 17 of 24 shots during the second half. Other than the run to end the first half, the Cowboys found themselves struggling to find open shots and offensive rhythm.
"People might say we're soft but that's the main thing we're working on in practice," Jackson said. "We've got guards who can stay with people and if we get beat we've got some big guys around the basket."