Jan. 26, 2008
WACO, Texas (AP) -- WACO, Texas (AP) -- Sooners' freshman standout Blake Griffin made an unexpected return from a sprained left knee and had 17 points and 15 rebounds as Oklahoma beat Baylor 77-71 on Saturday, its 27th straight victory over the Bears since 1977.
Baylor (16-3, 4-1 Big 12), coming off a five-overtime thriller over Texas A&M in their first game as a ranked team since 1969, overcame a 16-point second-half deficit against Oklahoma. The Bears went ahead 71-70 with about 2 minutes left when Henry Dugat rebounded a missed 3-pointer and drove the length of the court for a layup.
Griffin quickly answered for the Sooners (14-5, 2-2) with a strong inside basket. Then after a Baylor miss, Griffin drove the baseline to make it 74-71.
Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel insisted that he didn't know Griffin would play until only a few minutes before the game when the freshman convinced him that he was OK, despite being limited in practice the previous two days.
"I guess we made a mistake on that, didn't we," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "We went over personnel, but we really never focused a game plan with him being in there."
After getting hurt early at No. 2 Kansas on Jan. 14, Griffin was supposed to be out up to four weeks. But he missed only one game and was playing 13 days later.
Griffin didn't start, but entered against Baylor 5 1/2 minutes in and had almost an immediate impact. He had a rebound, an assist and a basket in a 10-0 run that put Oklahoma ahead to stay, except for that 10-second span late in the game.
Before Tony Crocker capped the scoring with two free throws with 15 seconds left, Griffin had scored nine straight points for the Sooners.
Austin Johnson had 15 points for Oklahoma, while Longar Longar had 13, Crocker 11 and David Godbold 10.
Coming off that 3 1/2 -hour marathon at No. 18 Texas A&M on Wednesday night, the Bears understandably looked sluggish at times.
"In the beginning, I think we looked a little tired. We were one or two steps behind," Curtis Jerrells said.
During the 10-0 run by Oklahoma in the first half, the Bears were outrebounded 9-0. Then Baylor missed 10 straight shots at one point after halftime -- that letdown coming during the same stretch when Griffin got credited with a basket on a goaltending call that put the Sooners up 57-41.
"Our guys, emotionally and physically, had a longer week than we're accustomed to," Drew said.
While Baylor had the quick turnaround from the five-OT game, Oklahoma had a week off since its win at Texas Tech without Griffin.
Godbold's 3-pointer from the top of the key started the Sooners' go-ahead spurt in the first half, then Baylor failed to convert on consecutive turnovers by Longar. Griffin added a slam dunk, Omar Leary turned a defensive rebound into a breakaway layup and Johnson hit a 3-pointer for a 17-11 lead.
After grabbing an offensive rebound a couple of minutes later and shuffling a pass to older brother Taylor Griffin for a short jumper, Blake clenched his fists and let out a triumphant scream as he walked away.
Griffin had seven rebounds in seven minutes in the first half.
"We're just going to relax, watch some film and go to practice," Jerrells said. "That game the other night took a lot out of us, and it showed early. But we showed some good effort and we didn't quit, and that was the important thing."