Young leads No. 17 Oklahoma against Northwestern State
The hottest player in the country now plays for a Top 25 team.
Oklahoma freshman guard Trae Young, averaging 28.8 points and 8.9 assists per game, has led the Sooners on a six-game winning streak heading into Tuesday night’s game against Northwestern State.
Young had 29 points and 10 assists on Saturday in a 91-83 victory at then-No. 3 Wichita State, a victory that propelled Oklahoma to No. 17 in this week’s AP poll. That is the first national ranking for the Sooners since the end of the 2015-16 season.
Through Sunday’s games, Young led the country in scoring and was third in assists.
“Statistically, it’s really off the charts, given what anybody else has ever done — especially through their first nine games,” Sooners head coach Lon Kruger said on SoonerSports.com.
“I think he’ll keep getting better, though, making better decisions and even better plays. It’s hard to say whether he’ll improve on the numbers. He’s just done a remarkable job given how many times he has the ball in his hands. … The biggest thing is he lets everyone else do what they’re most comfortable doing.”
More Young: The speedy 6-foot-2 guard has four double-doubles and has scored at least 28 points in seven consecutive games. He is shooting 37.5 percent (33 of 88) from 3-point range and 87.5 percent from the line (70 of 80).
He has put himself at the forefront of the discussion of the best freshmen in college basketball, a talented group that includes Duke forward Marvin Bagley III and Arizona power forward Deandre Ayton.
“I haven’t coached against a freshman that plays the game at that level,” said Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall. “Trae Young is not going to get rattled. He is too good.”
Oklahoma (8-1) has more than just the Trae Young Show.
While Young was the Big 12 Player of the Week for the third time, the league spread the wealth and selected 6-foot-9 freshman forward Brady Manek the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week. Manek scored a career-high 21 at Wichita State to improve his scoring average to 10.1 points.
Guard Christian James is averaging 12.8 points, while forward Khadeem Lattin is averaging 9.2 points and 8.4 rebounds.
Northwestern State (3-6) is coming off Saturday’s 85-84 loss to LSU-Shreveport, ranked No. 2 in the NAIA. Guard Jalan West, who missed the past two seasons because of ACL injuries, scored a season-high 24 points for the Demons.
West leads the team with 13.3 points per game.
“Jalan still has a ways to go, and we pushed him to the limit with 36 minutes,” said Northwestern State coach Mike McConathy. “He showed flashes tonight, but this is still a process.”
NSU is shooting only 27.5 percent from 3-point range (50 of 182) and lost earlier this season by 46 points to both Texas and SMU.
During Oklahoma’s six-game winning streak, Oklahoma has a win over Oregon in Portland, Ore., a two-point victory over then-No. 25 USC in Los Angeles and then the big triumph at Wichita State.
“We still have a long way to go,” Young said on SoonerSports.com. “We’re not where we want to be, but this is a good starting point. I’m very happy with where we’re at, but there’s a long way to go.”