Sooners Top North Texas, 82-72
NORMAN -Trae Young posted the kind of run not seen in Norman since Buddy Hield led Oklahoma to the Final Four two seasons ago.
Young, a freshman guard, scored 21 of his 32 points in the second half to help the Sooners defeat North Texas 82-72 on Thursday night.
Young entered the game second in the nation in scoring average and third in assists per game. He followed a 43-point performance in a win over Oregon on Sunday by making 10 of 18 shots and dropping 10 assists against the Mean Green. He made 6 of 11 3-pointers but also scored on drives and found his teammates.
"He made a lot of good plays, as he has done in each ball game," Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. "He was attacking and effective in getting into the paint and finishing and did a lot of good things there."
The home crowd hadn't seen Young truly go off as a scorer, though he had double-digit assists in his first two home games. He helped the Sooners shoot 64 percent from the field in the second half.
He wasn't satisfied with his effort.
"I had three turnovers tonight," he said. "That's not good. I haven't played my best yet. I played OK. I played pretty good, but not my best."
Khadeem Lattin had 12 points and nine rebounds for the Sooners (5-1).
Roosevelt Smart scored 15 points and A.J. Lawson added 14 for North Texas (4-4). The Mean Green made 13 3-pointers overall, but just four in the second half.
Young went scoreless for nearly 13 minutes to start the game. He entered the game after a rest and hit two 3-pointers 40 seconds apart to give the Sooners a 30-22 lead. North Texas rallied, and the game was tied 38-all at the break. North Texas slowed the pace and made 9 of 17 3-pointers in the first half. Smart had 12 points and Shane Temara had 11 at the break.
"They made shots," Kruger said. "They made some shots that you know you thought wouldn't go in. But they kept making them, so we have to do a better job at guarding and making shots a little bit tougher."
Young went to work early in the second half, scoring seven points in the first four minutes to help the Sooners take a 47-40 lead.
Young got the crowd on its feet with a behind-the-back pass for an assist on a Christian James dunk that put the Sooners up 75-65 with just under four minutes remaining. He clinched the double-double on a lob to Lattin for a dunk in the final minute.
North Texas: The Mean Green gave Oklahoma trouble six days after trailing Georgia Tech by three at the half before losing 63-49.
Oklahoma: The Sooners were a bit sluggish defensively at times in the first half, but they held North Texas to 33 shooting from 3-point range after the break. Still, the Mean Green shot 50 percent overall.
"A tough battle all the way," Kruger said. "These guys played great. Different style, good for us to experience. Very good win over a club who I thought played great."
Young is averaging 11 assists in home games this season. He had 10 in the opener against Omaha, 13 against Ball State and 10 against North Texas. He has 33 assists and eight turnovers combined in those contests.
Young, on shooting North Texas out of its zone: "We weren't making shots early on, and that's what helped them stay in the zone and gave us a problem early on in the game. Once we started knocking down shots, you got to switch it up. You got to keep doing that."
The Sooners face their second straight Conference USA squad in UTSA on Monday, Dec. 4. The 7 p.m. contest will air on Fox Sports Oklahoma. Tickets start at just $10 and are available at the OU Athletics Ticket Office (800-456-4668) and online at SoonerSports.com/tickets. The Lloyd Noble Center box office opens at 5:30 p.m.
Oklahoma: Hosts Texas-San Antonio on Monday.