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'We did some good things': OU men's basketball shows fight in loss to No. 1 Baylor

WACO, Texas – Umoja Gibson wanted one more.

Oklahoma trailed No. 1-ranked Baylor by 10 points with 2:13 left in the game when Gibson gathered a pass on the run and heaved a deep 3-pointer that found the bottom of the net.

The Sooners then forced a turnover on the other end, and Gibson called for the ball in the same spot on the left wing of the perimeter. The senior guard sent Adam Flagler flying past him with a pump fake before stepping into another 3-point try, but Matthew Mayer wasn't having it.

The senior forward delivered an emphatic block and saved the ball before it sailed out of bounds. He then finished on the other end with a nifty reverse layup.

The momentum-swinging moment gave Baylor a nine-point lead and helped the reigning national champions ultimately secure an 84-74 victory.

Tanner Groves finished with team-highs of 13 points and six rebounds for the Sooners (11-3, 1-1 Big 12). Jalen Hill and Gibson also tallied 12 points apiece.

Here are three takeaways from the contest:

More:Why Porter Moser, Sooners are more 'focused on the process' than being ranked

Baylor guard Adam Flagler (10) shoots over OU forward Ethan Chargois (15) during the first half Tuesday in Waco, Texas.

Bijan Cortes provides key bench facilitating

Bijan Cortes could barely hear the calls from head coach Porter Moser on the sideline.

OU trailed 16-12 with 13:33 left in the first half when the fans at the Ferrell Center made their presence known, but Cortes remained unphased. The freshman guard calmly dribbled into the lane before kicking the ball out to Ethan Chargois, who drilled a 3-pointer.

The deep bomb only temporarily silenced the crowd, which ramped up its intensity once again on the ensuing defensive possession. 

But Cortes stayed cool, calm and collected once again. This time the Kingfisher native knifed his way into the heart of the defense before losing his defender with a spin move and feeding Hill for an emphatic dunk.

"Bijan came in and was doing what he was supposed to do," Hill said. "He was giving everybody easy baskets and playing defense."

Cortes finished the game with six points and three assists in 15 minutes. While the young floor general is averaging a modest 10.1 minutes per game this season, the advanced stats show the true impact of his facilitating.

Assist rate is assists divided by the field goals made by a player's teammates while he is on the court. Of those who have played in at least 20 percent of their team's minutes this season, Cortes entered Tuesday tied for the eighth-highest assist rate in the Big 12 (22.4 percent).

Cortes' passing vision is well documented, but he still has room for improvement. The freshman is adjusting to the physicality of Division I basketball, and his foot speed on defense continues to be a work in progress.

Still, Cortes has already established himself as a crucial piece to OU's rotation.

Oklahoma forward Tanner Groves brings the ball up against Baylor guard Matthew Mayer during the first half Tuesday in Waco, Texas.

Second-chance buckets sink the Sooners

Jonathan Tchamwa just wouldn't quit.

Baylor held a 39-30 lead over OU with 3:22 left until halftime when a mid-range floater by James Akinjo clanked off the rim. In came Tchamwa, who secured the offensive board before feeding Flagler for a 3-point try.

That shot also got rejected by the rim, but Tchamwa once again outhustled the Sooners for the rebound. The 6-foot-8 forward then found Akinjo at the top of the arc, and the third time proved to be the charm.

Akinjo stepped into a mid-range jumper and knocked it down to give the Bears a 41-30 lead.

Baylor gathered 12 offensive rebounds and converted them into 19 second-chance points. OU only managed to snag three offensive rebounds, and it didn't convert them into any second-chance points.

"We came in here and we got crushed on the rebounding," Moser said. "(Baylor) do a really good job. If they have the position, they’re going to grab it. If you block them out, then they’re going to tip it back. It’s a lethal combination."

Baylor guard Adam Flagler shoots a 3-pointer over Oklahoma guard Elijah Harkless during the first half Tuesday in Waco, Texas.

OU shows fight in a losing effort

Baylor won its games this season by a nation-leading average of 25.2 points entering Tuesday's contest, but it got all it could handle against OU.

The Sooners managed to stay within striking distance all night, but the Bears' duo of Akinjo and Flagler proved to be the difference. Akinjo racked up a game-high 27 points, while Flagler poured in 22 points of his own.

The last time two players scored at least 20 points apiece in a game against OU was on Feb. 13, 2021. West Virginia's Derek Culver and Sean McNeil erupted for 29 points and 21 points, respectively.

While the Sooners didn't come out of Waco with an upset victory, they reaffirmed the fact that they've been overlooked all season.

OU hasn't managed to crack the AP Top 25 poll yet this season despite boasting a pair of Top 25 wins over then-No. 14 Florida and then-No. 12 Arkansas. Tuesday's efforts show that the Sooners can compete with the best teams in the country.

"Fight," Moser said. "I thought we stayed with what we were doing. I thought we were having really good possessions offensively, even with some of our misses. And I thought we were guarding possession by possession and we battled back in.

"We did some good things. There’s going to be teachable moments on both sides of the ball."

Justin Martinez can be reached at jmartinez@oklahoman.com or @JTheSportsDude on Twitter. Make sure to subscribe to The Oklahoman to stay up to date with all local sports.