Oklahoma had only finished pulling off the double on Baylor a few minutes before when sophomores Buddy Hield and Isaiah Cousins walked into the interview room on Saturday night.
The duo combined to score 40 of Oklahoma’s 88 points, accounting for 45 percent of the Sooner offense. Hield warmed up early, scoring 17 of his 19 points in the first half, while Cousins got hot late and scored 15 of his career-high 21 points in the second half.
Eight players scored points for OU and all but three of them shot 50 percent or better from the floor. Sophomore Ryan Spangler was uncharacteristically held scoreless with just six boards — four rebounds under his league-leading average. Despite all of that though, the Sooners shot better from the floor against Baylor at home than they had all season.
“I thought they really shot it well tonight,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew. “We didn’t do enough to get them off to a slow start and once they got going it was tough slowing them down.”
OU hit 53.6 percent of its shots from the floor and 48.3 percent of its shots from beyond the arc. While those traditional stats are impressive, I think the Sooners’ effective shooting percentage from the floor was even more impressive. Effective shooting percentage best shows shooting efficiency because it factors in the difficulty of 3-point shots WITH shots coming inside the arc.
The Sooners’ effective shooting percentage against Baylor that night was 66 percent. OU averages 51.8 effective shooting from the floor, just above the Division I average (50.4).
The only place where the Sooners fell off — and I’m nitpicking here — was at the free throw line. They shot 73.7 percent from the stripe (14-of-19), though they average 74.9 percent from the foul line this season.
Hield and Cousins sat at the table in front of media that night because they were the leading scorers and the largest reason — at least in the points column — why Oklahoma gained the victory. But the most efficient shooter on the floor at Lloyd Noble was senior Cameron Clark, and he was whom Hield and Cousins were keen to talk about.
Clark struggled through OU’s last three games by the standard he set for himself this year. He hadn’t scored in double figures, and he hadn’t shot better than 43 percent from the floor in those games. Before conference play began, Clark played only two games that didn’t end with him scoring at least 10 points.
The thing about Clark is he handles the ball more than any other player for OU. According to kenpom.com, he’s responsible for 24.7 percentage of OU’s possessions used this season. That’s more than even Sooner leading scorer Buddy Hield, even though Hield has taken more shots than any other OU player. In this offense, on this team, the ball runs through Clark’s hands. With him being OU’s second-best 3-point shooter (43.9 percent), you could make a good argument that the ball has to. That’s why OU needs him to be productive with more of his touches than not.
In Big 12 play, he’s showed he’s capable of being the most dominate player on the floor against Kansas. He also showed he could be taken completely out of a game like he was when he scored just two points on 1-of-9 shooting against Kansas State. Since then his teammates have continued to remind him how talented he is and how important he is to their success.
“I’ve told him to just keep his head up and play basketball,” Cousins said. “Just do what you have to do to help us win.”
“We just keep encouraging him,” Hield said. “He’s a great player and he is just in a little slump and he’ll shoot his way out of it.”
Against Baylor, Clark shot his way out of it. He hit 7-of-8 shots from the floor, including 2-of-3 from 3-point land, for 16 points.
Clark’s effective shooting percentage for the game was 93.8 percent. His conventional shooting percentage was 87.5 percent. So anyway you look at it he was on fire, and the entire roster was happy to see it.
“It was great to see Cam doing what he was doing and bouncing back like that,” Kruger said. We need that.”