Young’s record-setting night powers No. 17 Oklahoma past Northwestern State
NORMAN, Okla. – After shocking third-ranked Wichita State on the road Saturday, No. 17 Oklahoma rode one of the most remarkable performances in two decades in college basketball as it routed Northwestern State 105-68 Tuesday night.
OU freshman point guard Trae Young became the first NCAA player in 20 years to have at least 20 points and 20 assists in the same game, tying the NCAA single-game assists record with 22 and scoring 26 points. His passing artistry triggered the Sooners’ blistering 59 percent shooting as a 16-point halftime margin became a blowout four minutes into the second half.
The Sooners (9-1) added 22 points from Brady Manek in their seventh straight win since an early-season, neutral site loss to Arkansas.
The Demons (3-7) suffered 23 turnovers and made only 5 of 22 from behind the 3-point arc, while shooting 43 percent overall. NSU’s two low post players, junior Ishmael Lane (17 points) and freshman Larry Owens (16), combined to shoot 14 of 21 from the floor, with Owens (making 8 of 10) snagging a game-high seven rebounds.
Senior swingman Iziahiah Sweeney scored 13 points for the Demons, who travel Wednesday to Salt Lake City and play at 8 p.m. CST Wednesday night against Utah (7-3) to conclude their non-conference schedule.
After Jalan West (9 points, 5 assists) hit a pair of quick 3-pointers to help NSU to an early five-point lead, Oklahoma ran off 10 unanswered points to begin an 18-1 run and take command. The Demons got within 13 twice afterward in the first half, and 14 in the final minute, but despite mixing defenses had no solution for Young’s brilliance.
The NCAA’s leader in scoring (29 points per game) and assists (10.3 per game after the record haul) already had 13 assists by halftime, including on all seven baskets that he did not score in the game’s first nine minutes.
“You’ve got to stay in front of Trae Young. People may say that can’t be done, but you’ve got to do the best you can possibly do, and we didn’t do well at it,” said Demons’ coach Mike McConathy. “Basketball people talked about how Magic Johnson knew where the other nine players on the floor where, well Trae knows that too. He has the whole package, he can shoot the ball, he can catch it and he can pass it like very few can.”
McConathy bemoaned the Demons’ 3-point aim and overall offensive performance.
“We’ve got to understand the time and situation in the game better. We are taking 3-pointers too early, too often and we’ve got to be better in that aspect,” he said.
“Oklahoma did a nice job, but offensively we’re out of whack. It’s ridiculous. We’ve got one more game tomorrow night (before Southland Conference play begins Dec. 28 at Nicholls) to hopefully look like we have at times in the past month.
It’s a process and there were flashes of progress from some young guys tonight,” said McConathy. “We’ve got some nice pieces, and maybe it’s got to be narrowed down from 12 playing to a smaller number who are producing. We’ll get there.”
The 24-hour turnaround and travel between venues didn’t concern him.
“That’s a mental thing more than physical. We’ve done this well before in previous years. It’s the way the NBA travels, we just need to approach it like that,” he said. “We can quickly put what we didn’t do well behind us. We’ll be ready to go at Utah. These are good young men who love to play the game.”
NSU will take four days off after the Utah game, then resume practice Christmas night prepping for the conference opener at Nicholls.
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