Kansas City, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - Baylor revived its NCAA Tournament hopes with a late-season surge and has carried that momentum into the first two days of the Big 12 Tournament.
Isiah Austin had 18 points and five blocks and the Bears led wire-to-wire in a 78-73 triumph over No. 17 Oklahoma in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament.
Baylor raced out to a 10-0 start and withstood a late Sooners charge at the end.
The red-hot Bears had dropped 7-of-8 games and were 2-8 in conference following an 88-72 loss at Oklahoma on Feb 8, but they have responded by winning 9-of-10.
Cory Jefferson tallied 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Royce O'Neale added 12 points and 10 boards for seventh-seeded Baylor (23-10), which defeated TCU in the first round and will play the winner of the Texas/West Virginia quarterfinal in Friday's semifinals.
Cameron Clark netted 19 points and Buddy Hield supplied 15 points and seven rebounds for the second-seeded Sooners (23-9), who won three straight to close the regular season.
Hield knocked down a left-wing triple in transition to get OU within 69-64 with 2:32 left -- the closest the Sooners had been to that point in the second half after trailing by as many as 20.
Another Hield 3-pointer trimmed the gap to 72-68 with 1:27 remaining and O'Neale threw the ball away on the Bears' next touch, but Jordan Woodard was unable to cut the deficit further after missing on a trey. O'Neale then sunk two free throws and Brady Heslip made two more following a Clarke 3-point miss to seal the outcome.
Earlier, Heslip nailed a triple, Kenny Chery sunk three free throws after being fouled from beyond the arc and then knocked down a jumper before Jefferson's dunk staked the Bears to their 10-0 lead.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Frank Booker and Je'lon Hornbeak capped an 11-5 run to trim the gap to 15-11, but later in the half, Jefferson hit a triple to finish off an 11-4 Bears burst and give them a 33-20 cushion with 5:30 left in the opening half.
The Bears entered the break with a 47-31 advantage, but a 13-2 run brought OU within 56-47 as Baylor endured a six-plus minute field-goal drought.
Taurean Prince made a jumper to end the drought and an Austin jumper a bit later extended the margin back to 61-47 with 8:30 left.