Young’s 22 assists lead Oklahoma to win vs. Northwestern State
NORMAN, Okla. — His barrage of assists done, Oklahoma freshman phenom Trae Young left the court at Lloyd Noble Center to a loud ovation with a few minutes left in No. 17 Oklahoma’s 105-68 blowout over Northwestern State on Tuesday night.
Young, who earlier in the second half had raised his arms to try to make the crowd louder going into a timeout, this time just flashed a small grin as he joined his teammates in the huddle.
This ovation was for him.
Young put on another show against the Demons, tying an NCAA record with 22 assists to go along with 26 points.
The best scorer in college basketball to this point of the season turned in one of its best passing nights since assists became an official statistic in 1983-84.
Three other players have recorded 22 assists in a game, the last by Syracuse’s Sherman Douglas in January 1989. Charleston Southern’s Tony Fairley and Southern’s Avery Johnson also hold the record.
“What Trae did was exceptional — off the charts,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. “As he said in the locker room, a lot of guys made a lot of shots for him. He made a lot of good plays for a lot of guys as well. Good to see guys moving the ball.”
Young made a run at the record with six assists in a four-minute span late.
“I didn’t know that was the record,” Young said. “First, I wanted to win. Then I kind of knew I was getting close to 20 so I wanted to continue to get everybody involved. They kept making shots so that made it easier for me so that was good.”
The previous Big 12 Conference and school record for assists in a game was 17.
Young is averaging 28.5 points and 10.2 assists. He already led Division I in scoring and moved into the lead in assists as well.
“He always knew where his players were on the floor,” Demons coach Mike McConathy said. “A long time ago they talked about Magic Johnson, how he knew all the time where all nine players on the floor was. He (Young) knows where all nine players are on the floor, too. That means that he is going to put the ball wherever it needs to be.
“Phenomenal player. He’s got the whole package.”
Young was 9 of 17 from the floor, hitting 3 of 6 from behind the 3-point line.
Oklahoma was 59.4 percent from the floor in the win, hitting 11 3-pointers.
The Sooners (9-1) have won seven consecutive games.
Brady Manek added 22 points, Kameron McGusty added 15 and Christian James scored 13 for Oklahoma.
Northwestern State (3-7), which lost for the second consecutive game, was led by Ishmael Lane’s 17 points. Larry Owens added 16.
Young set the tone in the first 40 seconds of the game, hitting Manek on a lob for the first of his 13 first-half assists.
Young tied his own freshman school record for assists in a game in the closing moments of the first half when he found Hannes Polla under the basket.
In the opening minute of the second half, Young drove toward the basket off a steal and found himself too far under the basket to finish off the layup. Instead, he was able to put it off the glass for a pass to Manek.
The finish initially wasn’t credited as an assist but was added as one late.
“That was a crazy play,” Manek said.
Oklahoma sophomore forward Kristian Doolittle made his first appearance of the season just past the midway point of the first half after serving an academic suspension from the school in the first semester.
NOTES: The previous Big 12 record for assists in a game was shared by Oklahoma State’s Doug Gottlieb and Oklahoma’s Michael Johnson. ... Sooners coach Lon Kruger passed longtime Oklahoma coach Billy Tubbs on the NCAA’s career wins list with 610. ... Northwestern State plays at Utah on Wednesday. Oklahoma hosts Northwestern on Friday in its final game before Big 12 play begins.