NORMAN, Okla. (AP)—Blake Griffin never seems to be going it alone for No. 2 Oklahoma. It’s just impossible to tell who’s going to be his ace sidekick in any given game.
Griffin had 26 points and 12 rebounds for his 20th double-double, Tony Crocker added 24 points with a career-high seven 3-pointers and No. 2 Oklahoma had to scramble late to hold off Colorado 77-72 on Saturday.
It was a rare scoring outburst this season for Crocker, who had surpassed 20 points only two other times this season and hadn’t totaled that much over his past three games.
“That’s the beauty of our team. On any different night, we can have five different guys go for 20, and that’s hard to guard,” Griffin said. “It’s hard for another team to scheme against us. They can shut down us inside … but if our guards are hot, it kind of changes the game for us.”
The Sooners trailed only twice but didn’t shake free of the last-place Buffaloes until Griffin followed Crocker’s fifth 3-pointer of the game by driving the lane for a right-handed dunk over two defenders. Griffin’s jam gave Oklahoma its first double-digit lead at 56-45 with less than 11 minutes to play.
Colorado rallied back within 73-70 on Cory Higgins’ jumper with 12.2 seconds left, but the Sooners (23-1, 9-0 Big 12) sealed it from the foul line for their 12th straight win.
Higgins finished with 20 points to lead the Buffaloes (9-13, 1-7), who lost for the 23rd consecutive time in Norman and the 25th straight time in a Big 12 road game. Austin Dufault and Dwight Thorne II added 13 points apiece, and Nate Tomlinson scored 11.
It was the closest game for the Buffaloes in Norman during the losing streak, with the previous 21 losses coming by at least double digits.
“People may think they can walk over us, but we’re not just going to lay down,” said Jermyl Jackson-Wilson, Colorado’s lone senior. “You can give us whatever title you want to. People can call us the doormats you can just walk over, but we’re not going to lay down for anyone.
“We came to this school to win. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re going uphill. It’s an uphill battle right now, but once we get that train going downhill, I think teams should look out.”
Griffin hit his first nine shots, the last coming on a right-handed windmill jam after he’d stolen the ball from Austin Eckloff near midcourt. After Colorado called timeout, the Sooners’ 6-foot-10 preseason All-American walked into the huddle and told his teammates, “Let’s go!” before coach Jeff Capel began talking.
It was still a few more minutes before Oklahoma had some breathing room. Eckloff cut Colorado’s deficit to 51-45 with a layup and then had a chance to make it even closer with a 3-pointer after he’d stolen the ball from Griffin.
Crocker followed another defensive stop with his 3-pointer from the left side to help the Sooners start pulling away, and he added another a few possessions later. The Sooners led 65-51 after Taylor Griffin’s first 3-pointer of the season with 6:47 to play.
The Sooners seemed to shut it down after that, allowing Higgins a pair of easy baskets in the lane to start the Buffaloes’ rally. Higgins had a reverse layup to cap a string of seven straight Colorado points that sliced the deficit to 70-64 with 1:03 left, and the Sooners missed five of six free throws at one point to let the Buffs get even closer.
Cade Davis and Crocker closed it out by going 2-for-2 on free throws in the closing 12 seconds.
Oklahoma also scuffled in its first game since moving to its highest ranking since 1990, trailing by nine with 6:25 to play before rallying to beat Texas A&M on Wednesday night. In both instances, Griffin said he thought the Sooners relaxed after building big leads.
“We won. That’s what matters,” Crocker said. “But we didn’t play the way we should have played. We didn’t win how we should have won.”
The Buffaloes shot 28-for-55 to become only the third team this season to clear 50 percent against Oklahoma’s defense, but the Sooners were an even better 28-for-49 and also held a 33-20 advantage on the boards.
“Like we have been playing—close but yet so far,” Colorado coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “We’re just not quite strong enough underneath the boards.”
Colorado has never beaten a top 10 team on the road and was seeking its first win at Oklahoma since 1980.