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Oklahoma Sooners Basketball — Remembering the Good Times: The Best of Trae Young

The Trae Young Show ended with a whimper, but it certainly started with a bang.

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma at Wichita State Kelly Ross-USA TODAY Sports

If you blinked, you might’ve missed it. As time continues to pass, the way Trae Young’s historic freshman campaign is remembered may change. For some, it ended far too quickly and much too quietly. But if you step back and really think about it, how it ended shouldn’t completely discredit how it began, because the story wouldn’t have been the same without the meteoric rise. That’s why we call them thrill rides, and the Trae Young Show was as thrilling as it gets in college basketball.

So in a season with a plethora of remarkable instances, what were the top moments in the year of Young?

Trae bursts onto the scene with 43 against Oregon

It was November 26th in the PK80 Invitation. Trae Young wasn’t a household name across the nation yet, but after dropping 43 points on the Ducks, the buzz began to grow. Also, 30 of Young’s 43 came in the second half, and the 43 points were the most a Sooner had scored in a game since the great Buddy Hield scored 46 against Kansas in 2016 in that double-OT classic. Young would go on to score 40 or more points in a game three more times during the season, but this first one was the one that put the college basketball world on notice.

Trae goes behind the back for a sweet dime

Trae Young finished the season with 279 assists, including many that were absolutely dazzling in nature, but this helper to Christian James is second to none. What makes it even better is how it began. Young was not only in the right place at the right time to receive the loose ball, he also had the presence of mind to just take off. Sure, North Texas didn’t present the toughest competition for the Sooners on the season, but most teams would’ve had trouble defending this perfectly executed fast break.

Trae leads team to huge win in Wichita

Not many of us gave the Oklahoma Sooners a chance to come away with a victory on Dec. 15, but Trae Young and his teammates did just that against No. 3 Wichita State at the INTRUST Bank Arena. This was the moment in which Trae Young and the Sooners officially arrived on the national scene, and Oklahoma fans were over the moon about the basketball program. But it wasn’t just the Trae Young Show that day — the team as a whole moved the ball at a high level, played with confidence and was able to get crucial defensive stops in big situations. There was reason for optimism.

Trae drains 10 threes to beat TCU in OT

From early on, what Trae Young quickly became known for was his ability to shoot the three-ball. Sure, lots of players in college basketball are adept at shooting from beyond the arc, what’s the big deal? Well, the difference is that not all players are Trae Young, because not all players can make it splash from Owen Field. Of course, the comparisons to Golden State Warriors two-time MVP Steph Curry became a thing, but amidst all the comparisons, Young just kept shooting. And against TCU, each and every single three was needed.

In this game, Young scored 43 points (tied for his third-highest output of the season) on 15-27 from the field, including 10-18 from deep. Wait, 10 three-pointers? 10 threes! Those 10 were the most Trae Young ever made in a single game during his wild season as an Oklahoma Sooner, and it was impeccable timing too, because the game went to overtime, where Trae Young was able to score and create just enough to lead Oklahoma to victory.

Trae leads Oklahoma to victory over Kansas

This was the game that showed what this team was truly capable of when it played on a mission, and Trae Young was as dialed in as ever. Coming off a heartbreaking overtime loss in Bedlam, a game in which Trae Young’s season-high 48 was overshadowed by inefficiency and an absurd shooting volume, the Sooners were in desperate need of redemption. With the cream of the Big 12 crop coming to Norman, the team looked to Young to lead the charge, and boy did he do just that.

It was a classic game that went back and forth for the most part, but for every run Kansas attempted, Oklahoma answered right back. There was a stretch midway through the second half that saw the Jayhawks take a 10 point lead, but that’s when Trae Young put the team on his back. Young finished the game with 26 points on a scary-efficient 7-9 from the field, and nine assists, including two key dimes resulting in Brady Manek and Christian James three-pointers in the waning moments of the game. In hindsight, it was the height of the season for the Oklahoma Sooners, and Trae Young is a big reason why it was possible.

Trae goes off in shootout win over Baylor

Young scored 44 points on Jan. 30, and the Sooners needed ever one of them in a 98-96 victory over Baylor at the Lloyd Noble Center. Oklahoma would go on to lose eight consecutive games after the victory, so this moment was the last one in which Oklahoma basketball fans truly felt good about this team.

Trae returns to form against Kansas State

The period of time (pretty much all of February) between this moment and the previous highlight was the roughest of stretches for Trae Young and this team. Trae and his teammates clicked against a good Kansas State team and ended a six-game losing streak. Most importantly, Young was efficient in his effort, going 7-11 from the field and 8-10 at the stripe to total 28 points. Some fans felt cautiously optimistic about the team after this one, while others had already moved on and were determined not to get their hopes up to any degree. Nevertheless, Trae had a hell of a day.

Trae goes bonkers for 26 points AND 22 assists

We were going in chronological order, but we had to save this for last. I mean, c’mon! Trae Young tied the all-time NCAA mark for the most assists in a single contest with 22 helpers, and he still poured in 26 of his own points — albeit against lowly Northwestern State. Nevertheless, it was becoming very clear at this point in the season that we were witnessing a player who had a skill set unlike anything college basketball had seen in quite some time — if ever at all. Trae Young was must-see TV. It was an experience. It was the Trae Young Show.

Like I said, if you followed Trae Young all season long, this season was full of some incredible moments. The stats, the plays, the triumphs — enough to reminisce about for years to come. Sure, the magic didn’t last long, as teams began to adjust and the OU’s effort and confidence began to wane. But looking back, it was awesome just to watch Trae ball — if only for a brief period of time.

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