After setting the college basketball world on fire with a 21 point and seven assist first half against Wichita State on Saturday, Trae Young had more in store against Northwestern State. The freshman started the game out 1/4 from the field before putting up a 15 point and 13 assist first half with creative dribbling and fancy passing. He added to his first half and finished with 26 points and 22 assists–good for a Big 12 and Oklahoma record for assists, while also tying an NCAA record for assists in a game. Per ESPN Stats and Information, no player has had a 20-20 night with points and assists in the last twenty years. It is safe to finally say it: Trae Young is must-watch television.
“Obviously what Trae did tonight was exceptional, off-the-charts,” Oklahoma Head Coach Lon Kruger said about his freshman’s historic performance. “As he said in the locker room afterwards, a lot of guys made a lot of shots for him, but he made a lot of good plays for a lot of guys as well.”
Heading into tonight’s game, Young had scored over 20 points in eight straight games. He leads the country in points per game with 28.8 and is third in assists per game with 8.8 a night. Young is the leader of two freshman that are in the top 25 of scoring nationally, and he is the leader of five freshman that are in the top 25 of assists nationally. Simply put, he’s been the best player in college basketball so far this season regardless of class, and tonight was another validation of that.
“I would give a lot of credit to my teammates. I mean, that’s big time,” Freshman Trae Young said after the game about his historic night. “They did a tremendous job making shots for me tonight. But I mean, that’s a big accomplishment. Because not only is it an individual award, for me, I feel like it’s a team thing and that’s big for me more than anything else.”
Coming off back-to-back wins against ranked opponents, Oklahoma looked to get their feet back underneath them against a 3-6 Northwestern State team. After an early 11-9 deficit, the Sooners went on a 20-1 run and didn’t look back. They then began the second half on a 12-4 run that pushed their 53-37 halftime lead to 68-41 and coasted the rest of the game.
“Good offensive performance again. I think we got better defensively as the game went along,” Kruger said in his opening statement following the win. “Good to see guys moving the ball. Good to see guys getting (the ball) out of the backcourt at a good rate. And again, I thought we improved defensively as the game went along. Got to keep getting better.”
The story heading into tonight’s game was the return of sophomore forward Kristian Doolittle. Doolittle has been serving an academic suspension from the University of Oklahoma following an academic misconduct issue in the 2017 spring semester. With his suspension, Doolittle lost his starting job after making 25 starts as a freshman. Understanding of his situation, he knows it’s going to take time to get back into the swing of things.
“I just got to find a role now. Roles aren’t the same as last year, which is fine,” Doolittle told reporters on Sunday after practice. “Like I said, I just got here, so I’m just trying to find my way as I learn the offense and get ready for our game Tuesday if I play or if I don’t play. It’ll be a continuous cycle, it’s not going to happen overnight, but I’ll be good.”
Doolittle only played seven minutes and recorded two rebounds in his limited time against Northwestern State.
The Sooners were ranked No. 17 in this week’s Associated Press poll, and have a big matchup against Northwestern on Friday. Oklahoma is heading into their premier non-conference home game on a seven game win streak and have a chance to boost their already strong NCAA Tournament résumé.