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Oklahoma Basketball: Sooners rock Jayhawks, 85-80

Trae Young led the way once again with 26 points and 9 assists.

NCAA Basketball: Kansas at Oklahoma Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma Sooners bested the Kansas Jayhawks in a mega matchup between the nation’s best player and the Big 12’s premier program. Trae Young started the game relatively slow by design, but closed the game with a flurry of plays for both his teammates and himself. The win tonight marks the fourth time the Sooners have defeated a top-ten opponent this season.

Even before tip-off, the atmosphere in the Lloyd Noble Center was electric. The crowd showed up in a big way and their presence was felt throughout the night. In a game like this one, it was needed, too. Way to go, Sooner Nation!

The ending sequence of the game was exhilarating. Down by one with about a minute to go, Christian James came up with a clutch three. After the Jayhawks failed to answer on the other end, Brady Manek followed James up and sealed the deal with a dagger!

Three takeaways

  • Trae Young played much more conservatively and within the offense in the first half, making three of a season-low four attempts from the field. That said, Young still managed to make his presence felt among his teammates, accounting for six assists before halftime. After shooting a staggering 39 times in Stillwater, Young was much more measured with his shot selection against the Jayhawks, going 7-9 from the field. If Young continues to make a concerted effort to create plays for his teammates going forward, the Sooners should continue to contend for the conference crown.
  • When Oklahoma found itself trailing in the latter stages of the game, the Sooners went with the age-old hack-a tactic, and KU’s Udoka Azubuike was the unlucky victim. Azubuike missed nearly every free throw attempt, going 1-7 from the charity stripe. The tactic worked out great in this case, and it went a long way towards helping Oklahoma secure the win.
  • Last time we saw the Sooners, Trae Young scored 48 points and nobody else reached double figures. Tonight, Christian James and Brady Manek scored 15 and 14 points, respectively. What’s more was the bench play. To use the last game as a comparison again, the bench only scored a combined seven points, but tonight the bench turned in 13 points. While six more points may not seem so significant, it shows that an increase in production from sources outside of Trae Young is possible, even against an elite team like KU.

What’s next?

Oklahoma will head over to Tuscaloosa this Saturday to play Alabama in the 5th annual Big 12/SEC Challenge. The Sooners have an opportunity to add another quality road win to their tournament resume by defeating the Crimson Tide, but Lon Kruger will have to dial up a solid game plan for guard Collin Sexton. Sexton’s game has drawn comparisons to NBA MVP Russell Westbrook. Since the Big 12/SEC Challenge began, the Sooners are 3-1 in their matchups against SEC opponents, with the lone loss coming last season against the Florida Gators.

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