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Cunningham, OSU stun Baylor to reach Big 12 final

Oklahoma State’s Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe (12) shoots over Baylor’s Mark Vital (11) and Flo Thamba (0) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, March 12, 2021. [Charlie Riedel, AP]
Oklahoma State’s Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe (12) shoots over Baylor’s Mark Vital (11) and Flo Thamba (0) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, March 12, 2021. [Charlie Riedel, AP]

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Oklahoma State guard Avery Anderson III drove to the basket and saw his opening.

He got the layup off as he was fouled. Soon enough, he was making the go-ahead free shot.

On the next possession, Cade Cunningham was in attack mode and suddenly Rondel Walker popped open on the baseline for a layup and free shot.

And soon enough, the 12th-ranked Cowboys had their best win of the season.

OSU knocked off No. 2-ranked Baylor 83-74 Friday night in the Big 12 semifinals at T-Mobile Center, continuing its red-hot play as Selection Sunday nears.

OSU will play Texas at 5 p.m. Saturday for the Big 12 Tournament title.

Here are three takeaways:

Cade and Avery, what a pair

Cunningham and Anderson again shined.

Cunningham scored 25 points, including 20 in the second half. He hit big 3-pointers. He came up with big rebounds.

Down the stretch, he hit five free shots to ice the game.

And Anderson was again dynamic. His blossoming into a star continued with 20 points.

He led the way with 13 points in the opening half as Baylor focused on Cunningham.

Fearless Cowboys

Twice, OSU played Baylor this season short-handed.

Cunningham and Rondel Walker missed the first matchup. Isaac Likekele missed the second.

This time, the Cowboys were healthy.

Thursday afternoon, they talked like they were ready for Baylor. And they were.

OSU seemed more focused on both ends of the floor.

It had just 13 turnovers after hovering around 20 rebounds lately. It led for more than 17 minutes.

The defense forced Baylor to make just 6 of 28 3-pointers. The defense also allowed OSU to stay within striking distance when it had a near-6-minute stretch without a field goal.

Baylor had clamped down following a Cunningham jumper. But it could not extend its lead to pull away from the Cowboys.

A week ago, things might be different.

But these Cowboys are rapidly growing.

Speed racer

Anderson had Baylor’s MaCio Teague turned around.

With time ticking away in the first half, Anderson grabbed a long rebound and hit the jets. Dribbling to his right, Teague tried to turn that way, only for Anderson to switch directions. Then, Anderson did it again.

Finally, with Jared Butler unable to defend well with two fouls, Anderson made a layup with less than 1 second remaining.

In less than 5 seconds, Anderson went nearly the length of the floor.

And that wasn’t the only time.

The Cowboys went full throttle often. It kept the Bears’ stingy defense from getting comfortable. It led to big things for the Cowboys.

Nine of their 16 first-half baskets were layups. They outscored Baylor 15-2 on fast breaks.

Jacob Unruh covers college sports for The Oklahoman. You can send your story ideas to him at junruh@oklahoman.com or on Twitter at @jacobunruh. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.

Related Photos
<strong>Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham (2) passes over Baylor's MaCio Teague during the first half of the Cowboys win in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals Friday in Kansas City, Mo. [AP Photo/Charlie Riedel]</strong>

Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham (2) passes over Baylor's MaCio Teague during the first half of the Cowboys win in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals Friday in Kansas City, Mo. [AP Photo/Charlie Riedel]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-7c82afe826a5c0877c253ba99ad3a3d4.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham (2) passes over Baylor's MaCio Teague during the first half of the Cowboys win in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals Friday in Kansas City, Mo. [AP Photo/Charlie Riedel] " title=" Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham (2) passes over Baylor's MaCio Teague during the first half of the Cowboys win in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals Friday in Kansas City, Mo. [AP Photo/Charlie Riedel] "><figcaption> Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham (2) passes over Baylor's MaCio Teague during the first half of the Cowboys win in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals Friday in Kansas City, Mo. [AP Photo/Charlie Riedel] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-86f9c1a8eb25dc0c54c72de0bd2989f7.jpg" alt="Photo - Baylor's Davion Mitchell, right, passes around Oklahoma State's Isaac Likekele (13) during the first half Friday. [AP Photo/Charlie Riedel] " title=" Baylor's Davion Mitchell, right, passes around Oklahoma State's Isaac Likekele (13) during the first half Friday. [AP Photo/Charlie Riedel] "><figcaption> Baylor's Davion Mitchell, right, passes around Oklahoma State's Isaac Likekele (13) during the first half Friday. [AP Photo/Charlie Riedel] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-13a91072a7a497439934c06738b4471b.jpg" alt="Photo - Baylor's Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua battles Oklahoma State's Kalib Boone (22) and Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe (12) for a rebound during the first half. [AP Photo/Charlie Riedel] " title=" Baylor's Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua battles Oklahoma State's Kalib Boone (22) and Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe (12) for a rebound during the first half. [AP Photo/Charlie Riedel] "><figcaption> Baylor's Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua battles Oklahoma State's Kalib Boone (22) and Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe (12) for a rebound during the first half. [AP Photo/Charlie Riedel] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-3032e669bc1ce3ba46b69982bc0e97a1.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma State’s Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe (12) shoots over Baylor’s Mark Vital (11) and Flo Thamba (0) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, March 12, 2021. [Charlie Riedel, AP] " title=" Oklahoma State’s Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe (12) shoots over Baylor’s Mark Vital (11) and Flo Thamba (0) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, March 12, 2021. [Charlie Riedel, AP] "><figcaption> Oklahoma State’s Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe (12) shoots over Baylor’s Mark Vital (11) and Flo Thamba (0) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, March 12, 2021. [Charlie Riedel, AP] </figcaption></figure>
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