NORMAN, Okla. – Coach Lon Kruger provides a regular countdown for his players of how many games are left in Oklahoma's season.
As that number keeps shrinking, Romero Osby sees the missed opportunities piling up and a sense of urgency starting to grow.
Another chance for a signature win slipped by Tuesday night, with Perry Jones III scoring 21 points and tying his season-high with 12 rebounds to lead No. 6 Baylor to a 77-65 win over the Sooners on Tuesday night.
The Sooners (12-7, 2-5 Big 12) were within two points in the final 5 minutes but couldn't get timely stops and lost for the fourth time in five games.
Osby said he hears Kruger's countdown go from 12 to 11 regular-season games left and thinks about the future.
"One day it's going to be no more and then, 'We can do something next season,'" Osby said. "We want to try to start making progress now, start getting some wins under our belt, start getting some confidence and see where we can go from here, the rest of this year,"
The Sooners fell behind by 10 points in the opening 10 minutes and then repeatedly cut into double-digit leads until they were only a basket behind. But Baylor (18-2, 5-2) had an answer each time, bouncing back after consecutive losses to conference leaders Kansas and Missouri, both also Top 10 teams.
"We're a step away," Pledger said. "I feel like we've just got to do something one more. We've just got to make that one more extra step, get that one extra rebound, box out that one time harder. We're just one more step away from everything."
Jones helped his team pull ahead down the stretch, putting back Pierre Jackson's miss after Oklahoma had gotten within 62-60. Jackson's three-point play on the next possession made it 67-60 with 3:28 to play, and the Sooners couldn't get closer than five after that.
Jackson added 16 points and seven assists and Quincy Acy had 13 points and three blocks for the Bears, who shot 54 percent — their fourth time in the last five games to hit at least half of their shots.
They also went 9 for 18 from behind the arc, after coming in as the Big 12's best 3-point shooting team at 41 percent.
Steven Pledger led Oklahoma with 17 points, and Osby had 16 points and 11 rebounds. The Sooners have allowed opponents to shoot at least 50 percent in four of their five Big 12 losses.
"We just have a long way to go defensively. We want to guard Big 12 people and hold them field goal percentage-wise. We've got to just do a better job," Kruger said.
It was only the second win in 18 tries for the Bears at the Lloyd Noble Center in a series that was heavily lopsided in the Sooners' favor until recent years.
Oklahoma had won 30 straight games in the series from 1978 to 2009 before Baylor won three in a row. The Sooners then won at home and knocked the Bears out of the Big 12 tournament last season to regain the upper hand.
The Bears eased out to a 24-14 lead after Anthony Jones' left-hander inside with 10:20 left in the first half.
Oklahoma managed to chip away, cutting the deficit in half before intermission and then getting the crowd standing when Cameron Clark and Pledger connected on consecutive jumpers to pull the Sooners within 37-36 in the first 2 minutes of the second half.
Osby fought through Anthony Jones for a two-handed slam to get the Sooners back within one again following a jumper by Perry Jones, but then the Bears began to distance themselves.
Brady Heslip hit two 3-pointers and Jackson added another during a 15-3 run, and Acy's right-handed dunk on a fast break put Baylor up 54-41.
Another dunk by Osby sparked a string of eight straight Sooners points, with Carl Blair's fast-break layup trimming the deficit to 56-52 at the midway point of the second half. Sam Grooms hit consecutive jumpers before Clark hit from the right side to get the lead down to 62-60 in the final 5 minutes.
"We've got to figure out ways to get some stops, especially in the second half there," Kruger said. "With all due respect, Baylor's very, very good but we still have to figure out a way to get some stops and get into bodies a little bit more (to stop) a couple big offensive rebounds there at critical times.
"I know our guys will keep working. They're not happy with coming close and they're not happy with not getting it all the way done."