Oklahoma basketball: Sooners have their moments in close win against North Texas

oklahoma sooners-north texas mean green-mens basketball

NORMAN, Okla. — The night was rough for Oklahoma. The Sooners couldn’t separate from North Texas. Every run seemed to be blunted by a turnover that turned into an easy basket for the Mean Green.

Then with about four minutes to go, something kicked in. Trae Young, who carries a reputation as one of college basketball’s must-see freshmen, grabbed a steal and race to the other end. With a defender in his path and Oklahoma’s Christian James streaking at the other end of the lane, Young whipped a behind-the-back pass to James for an easy dunk, electrifying the crowd at Lloyd Noble Center.

Even in a closer-than-expected 82-72 victory on Thursday, the Sooners (5-1) can come up with something to be energized about.

“I thought he was going to throw up in the air, honestly. It’s what he do. You gotta keep your eyes open out in transition,” James said.

It’s hard not to watch Young these days. He scored 32 points with 10 assists. It was the third straight game the freshman point guard scored at least that. His 10 assists give him three double-doubles in six games.

“Made a lot of good plays as he’s done in each ballgame,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “He was attacking. In fact, he was getting into the paint and finishing.”

Oklahoma overcame a slow start

The Sooners seemed to gather some momentum with their 2-1 showing at last week’s PK80 tournament in Portland, Ore. They closed the run with a 90-80 victory against Oregon and Young dominated in every game.

But that energy didn’t carry over to the tipoff against North Texas (4-4). The Sooners trailed early and didn’t take command of it until the final minutes.

Oklahoma’s biggest defensive issue — guarding the 3-point line — cropped up a few seconds after the opening tip. The Mean Free connected on 9 of 17 3-point attempts in the opening 20 minutes. Roosevelt Smart, who led North Texas with 15 points, hit 4 3s in the first half.

“They made some shots early, then picked their confidence up. They felt comfortable because they were doing what they wanted to do coming into the game,” Kruger said. “I thought their game plan was good, and they executed it well, and we didn’t affect it very much until later in the second half when we scrambled it up a little bit. But yeah, that can break your spirit a little bit, when they make shots like that, late in the clock, especially. We survived it.”

The Sooners can score

The 82 points against North Texas established a season low. The Sooners shot 54.2 percent from the field (32 for 59). Khadeem Lattin scored 12 points to go along with 9 rebounds. He joined Young as the only Sooners in double figures.

But the Sooners went 10 for 23 from behind the 3-point line. Young scored 18 of his points from deep. Backup point guard Jordan Shepherd hit both of his 3-point shots.

Getting in transition was the key for Oklahoma. North Texas bottled the Sooners up until the second half. Oklahoma started getting some turnovers and run-outs in the final 10 minutes. James dunk was the last of it. It gave Oklahoma a 10-point lead. North Texas didn’t get any closer.

Through six games, Oklahoma is averaging 94.0 points a game and Young is up to 28.8 points a contest.

“I just felt like once one goes in, it’s just repetition,” Young said. “Continue to do the same routine whether I make my first few shots or not. Same thing every time.”

The post Oklahoma basketball: Sooners have their moments in close win against North Texas appeared first on Diehards.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.

Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.