Blake Griffin scored 20 of his 26 points in the second half and No. 4 Oklahoma survived a 3-point onslaught by Oklahoma State to escape with an 89-81 victory Monday night in the Bedlam rivalry game.
Oklahoma’s Austin Johnson hit a 3-pointer from the left wing after the Cowboys had cut a 14-point deficit to one with less than 7 minutes to play, and the Sooners (20-1, 6-0 Big 12) opened conference play with a 6-0 mark for the first time.
Johnson finished with 22 points and reserve Juan Pattillo added 12 as Oklahoma won its fourth straight Bedlam game for the first time since a streak that ended in 1991.
Byron Eaton scored 17 points to lead Oklahoma State (13-6, 2-3) in first-year coach Travis Ford’s Bedlam debut. Obi Muonelo, James Anderson and Keiton Page all added 15 points.
The Cowboys used their pressing defense to harass Oklahoma into its most turnovers of the season, but fell behind with an uncharacteristically slow start from long range combined with a spate of foul trouble.
Anderson, the Cowboys’ leading scorer, headed to the bench after picking up two fouls in the first 68 seconds of the second half. When Marshall Moses was called for a foul moments later as Griffin backed into him, Ford turned and threw his coat toward the bench.
It was the fourth of five fouls called against the Cowboys in the first 2 minutes after halftime.
Oklahoma responded by scoring the next seven points to go up 46-32 on Johnson’s basket in the lane with 17:27 left, but even that lead wasn’t safe.
Page scored six straight points to bite off the first chunk of the deficit and then hit a 3-pointer at the end of a 7-0 spurt that got the Cowboys into striking distance at 59-56 with 10:14 to play.
The Cowboys, the nation’s second-best 3-point shooting team at 41.5 percent, started out 5-for-16 from 3-point range but then hit four of their next six to make it a game. Page had a chance to tie it on a drive to the basket with 7 1/2 minutes left, but missed and then fouled Griffin on the rebound.
Griffin hit one of two free throws before Eaton connected twice at the other end to get Oklahoma State within 64-63 with 7:20 to play, but that’s when Johnson connected on his first of two big 3s down the stretch.
He hit another from the left wing with 2:31 left that pushed Oklahoma’s lead to 79-70 and all but put the game away.
A storm with freezing drizzle that slowly blanketed the state in ice kept the rivalry game from drawing a capacity crowd, even after Oklahoma State announced that anyone who could make it to Gallagher-Iba Arena would be let in for free.
Oklahoma came out hot, hitting its first seven shots to take a 17-8 lead, but then let the Cowboys score eight straight points surrounding a technical foul against Tony Crocker of the Sooners. He was the second player to get a technical foul in the first 6 minutes, following Oklahoma State’s Malcoln Kirkland.
Taylor Griffin then set up Pattillo for two as the Sooners reeled off a 14-5 run, going up 31-21 on Willie Warren’s 3-pointer from the left corner. Anderson answered with consecutive 3s for Oklahoma State, but the Sooners still led by nine at halftime.