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February 11, 2009

Johnson leads Sooners past Bears in Waco

WACO, Texas -- Blake Griffin could only smile when he turned to run down the court after his deflected shot still fell through the hoop.

Griffin, who had some emphatic dunks, got plenty of help as the Sooners (24-1, 10-0 Big 12) won their 30th consecutive game over Baylor (15-9, 3-7), a streak that dates back to December 1977.

Austin Johnson knows his buzzer-beating 3-pointer was lucky.

A couple of lucky shots, another double-double by Griffin and an earlier game-changing run of 3s by Johnson pushed second-ranked Oklahoma to a 78-63 victory over Baylor on Wednesday night and stretched the Sooners' winning streak to 12 games.

"That's what comes with one team is on a roll and the other is struggling," Baylor coach Scott Drew said.

The shot clock was running out on the Sooners (24-1, 10-0 Big 12) when Willie Warren passed to Johnson, who caught the ball and shot while still in the air. That 3-pointer with 4 minutes left pushed Oklahoma's lead back to the 10 and took the steam out of Baylor (15-9, 3-7).

"It was deflating," said Drew, whose team has a six-game losing streak.

"It was just a really lucky shot," Johnson said. "Stuff happens like that sometimes. It was just a lucky shot."

Griffin had 18 points and 10 rebounds for his 21st double-double this season, matching the school record with six regular season games left.

Johnson finished with 17 points while Juan Pattillo and Warren each had 14 for the Sooners, who beat Baylor for the 30th straight time since December 1977.

"The streak doesn't really mean a lot to me," coach Jeff Capel said. "We put up on our board before the game, we have one goal, that's to get to 24-slash-10. That was our goal, 24 wins overall and 10 wins in the conference. That's all we focused on. We didn't talk about the past or what's happened before. It was just that."

Oklahoma is the first NCAA Division I team with 24 victories, a mark No. 21 Utah State (23-1) will try to match at Idaho on Thursday night. The Sooners have their best start in conference play since they were 11-0 in the Big Eight Conference in 1985.

After Quincy Acy sparked a wild sequence that got Baylor within 52-49 with 8 minutes left, Capel called timeout. And the Sooners responded.

Within a minute after the timeout, Pattillo hit a baseline jumper, and following a missed 3-pointer by Baylor, Johnson passed inside to Pattillo, who made the shot and added a free throw after being fouled.

"We knew they were going to have a run," Johnson said. "It came, we kept playing and got through it."

The Sooners extended their lead to 62-51 when Tony Crocker hit a long 3-pointer with 5 minutes left and Baylor never got closer than seven points after that.

Griffin botched a slam attempt on Johnson's inbound ally-oop pass midway through the first half, but grabbed his miss between Baylor defenders and went straight back up to make the second try. On the next possession, he got his basket that went in despite being deflected.

"It's something I practice," Griffin said, with a smile. "I guess he got his hand on it and bent it backwards and put a topspin on it. I got pretty lucky today."

It was 35-30 at halftime after Omar Leary passed to Blake, who made a quick move around Rogers and had a clear path for a one-handed slam in the final minute.

Griffin opened the second half in a similar fashion, with a one-handed reverse slam on a pass from Johnson in the opening minute. Taylor Griffin's basket made it 40-30 before Baylor had scored in the second half.

Acy's slam dunk that got Baylor within 52-47 came after Dunn missed a 3-pointer and a couple of Bears touched the long rebound before Rogers passed to Acy.

Oklahoma then had a turnover, when Warren tried to force a pass inside to Blake Griffin. Acy stole the pass and that led to layup by Dunn. But Baylor never got closer.

Curtis Jerrells had 19 points to lead Baylor (15-9, 3-7), which has its longest losing streak since starting 0-6 in 2005-06, the freshman season for seniors Jerrells, Henry Dugat and Kevin Rogers.

Rogers and Dunn each had 11 points. Rogers also had nine rebounds.

Dunn was 0-for-6 shooting 3-pointers, ending his streak of 28 consecutive games with a 3-pointer, one short of the school record.

Oklahoma took the lead for good with 3 1/2 minutes left in the first half when Warren hit a long 3-pointer from the left wing to make it 25-24.

That came during a stretch of four consecutive 3-pointers by the Sooners, with Johnson making the other three.

The first by Johnson was from well beyond the arc, but Warren went even a few feet deeper for his. After a timeout, Johnson hit 3s on consecutive possessions.


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