Baylor’s three-game road swing to Oklahoma has been a disappointment, as the Bears fell to the Cowboys, 3-0.
But the game was overshadowed by an upset over the Oklahoma State Cowboys, who won for the third time in four days, 101-96, on Sunday.
The Bears were playing in a game that has dominated college basketball’s calendar for weeks and had become a symbol of how close they were to a championship.
The win is Baylor’s first since beating Texas A&M, which lost to Kansas State, in its last game before the NCAA Tournament.
The game also comes at a critical time for the Bears.
The loss is just the latest in a long string of losses, including a heartbreaking loss to No. 1 Oklahoma on Saturday and a home loss to Michigan State in the Final Four.
Baylor, which is one of the nation’s top programs, had won six of the previous seven regular-season games and had a 3-2 record in the series, including an NCAA Tournament berth.
The last time Baylor lost to Oklahoma was in 2013.
“We’re still very confident that we’re going to be able to get into the Final Five,” coach Matt Rhule said.
“This team has a great resume.
We have a lot of talent.
We’re just a little bit more hungry right now.”
The Bears are trying to avoid their first NCAA Tournament since 2010, when they lost to then-No. 1 Arizona State in Phoenix.
Rhule had said earlier in the week that his team needed to beat a top-25 team to advance.
The Wildcats, led by fellow freshman forward D.J. Smith, scored the final 20 points of the first half to overcome a 14-point halftime deficit and take a 69-58 lead into the fourth quarter.
Smith scored 10 of Baylor’s final 20 and led the Cowboys with 17 points.
The Cowboys trailed by 12 early in the second half before they took a 10-point lead into halftime.
Oklahoma State had 15 first-half points and finished the game on a 14 3-pointer from Matt Eberly with 4:32 to play.
Eberle had 16 points in the first quarter, including three 3-pointers.
Smith had 10 points for Oklahoma State, which was held to 14 points and nine assists in the opening two quarters.
Oklahoma had 22 first-quarter points, but the Bears had 23 in the third and 16 in the fourth.
The teams combined for 17 points in that span.
“They got to us and really pushed it,” Rhule told reporters.
“And we just didn’t respond.
We didn’t do a great job of moving the ball.
Oklahoma is one tough team, and we know that.”
The Cowboys shot just 31 percent in the half and took 29 first-down shots.
Smith finished with 10 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Oklahoma City’s DeAndre Jordan had 13 points for the Cowboys.
“There’s nothing that we can do about the way the game went,” Oklahoma State coach Steve Kerr said.
The losses to Texas A &m and Kansas State are the most recent of a seven-game losing streak for Rhule, who has never been able to make the NCAA tournament.
His team has been in the NCAA’s top 10 since it entered the tournament in 2019.
Oklahoma’s next game is against No. 16 Virginia on Wednesday.
Texas A’s and Kansas’ wins in Phoenix and Kansas City are the only two losses this season for Rhules.
He is the first coach to reach the NCAA Sweet 16 in back-to-back seasons since Kentucky coach John Calipari in 2011 and 2012.
Oklahoma has lost four straight games in the regular season.