Top-ranked Baylor became the first team ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25 to ever lose two home games in the same week on Saturday when the Bears lost 61-54 against Oklahoma State. The Cowboys (9-7, 2-3 Big 12) had lost four of five entering the game but kept the Bears (15-2, 3-2) out of sync offensively to pick up a huge road win that showcases just how rigorous the Big 12 is this season.
Baylor shot just 25.8% from the floor in the first half as the Cowboys opened up a 34-22 lead entering the break. Baylor rallied in the second half and had two chances to take the lead or tie in the final 35 seconds. But a pair of Adam Flagler turnovers doomed their. chances.
Oklahoma State is ineligible for the NCAA Tournament this season, so there aren't resume implications for the Cowboys as a result of the victory. But winning on the road against the nation's top-ranked team is nevertheless significant for fifth-year coach Mike Boynton.
It's been an up-and-down season thus far for the Cowboys following the departure of No. 1 overall draft pick Cade Cunningham from last season's team, which reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament as a No. 4 seed. But with wins over then-No. 14 Texas and now Baylor in hand, the program has clearly found motivation to play hard-nosed defense in spite of the postseason ban. They entered with the nation's No. 15 ranked defense, according to KenPom.com, and it came through in a big way against an offensive juggernaut.
Talk about an exclamation point 🤩#NewEra | #GoPokes pic.twitter.com/u88oZ3oLUa— OSU Cowboy Basketball (@OSUMBB) January 16, 2022
Oklahoma State's sophomore Bryce Thompson set a new career-high with 19 points, including 12 in the second half. The former five-star prospect from Tulsa, Oklahoma transferred back to his home state following a season at Kansas, and Saturday's performance looked like a true breakout game for the 6-5 guard. He entered third on the team in scoring at 8.5 points but rose to the occasion of playing against Baylor's high-quality guards.
Thompson made four clutch free throws in the final 30 seconds to stifle Baylor's rally, and he put an exclamation point on the outcome with a dunk as the final buzzer sounded. Considering that Oklahoma State is under the postseason ban, Saturday's stage may be as big as it gets for Thompson this season. He picked the perfect time to shine, both for his team and himself.
HE'S LIKE THAT 😤#NewEra | @B3thompson__ pic.twitter.com/RkZhsl5wpQ— OSU Cowboy Basketball (@OSUMBB) January 15, 2022
New No. 1
This was Baylor's fifth straight week at No. 1, but the back-to-back losses mean there will be a new top team come Monday. Who will it be? No. 2 Gonzaga and No. 4 Auburn are the two teams with the best cases. The Zags crushed Santa Clara 115-83 on Saturday after throttling a quality BYU team 110-84 on Thursday. The Bulldogs' 69-55 win over Texas Tech on Dec. 18 also looks better in retrospect than it did at the time considering that the Red Raiders have since picked up victories against Baylor and Kansas.
The Zags began the season at No. 1, however, and voters may be hesitant to elevate them back to the top spot over a one-loss Auburn team that is taking on Ole Miss on Saturday night. The Tigers have won 12 straight games and are surging behind a deep roster that features potential No. 1 draft pick Jabari Smith.
Baylor's seeding stock
The loss means the Bears are no longer the projected No. 1 overall seed, but they will remain one of the projected four No. 1 seeds for the time being because of an 8-2 record in Quad 1 and Quad 2 games, according to CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm. Auburn will replace the Bears as the No. 1 overall seed, pending the outcome of the Tigers' Saturday night game against Ole Miss.
There was plenty of activity on the projected No. 1 seed line on Saturday. LSU's loss to Arkansas dropped it from a projected No. 1 to a projected No. 2, according to Palm, with Gonzaga moving back to a No. 1 seed following its blowout victory over Santa Clara.