Trae Young ties NCAA record with 22 assists in runaway OU win

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 08: Christian James
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 08: Christian James /

Trae Young has taken over the college basketball world and, in doing so, is bringing a flood of tears to college fans and coaches in hoops-crazy places like Lawrence, Kansas, and Lexington, Kentucky.

The sensational freshman point guard was one of the hottest prospects in the nation-wide recruiting class of 2017 and was eagerly pursued by the biggest names in the college game, including Kansas and Kentucky. Young could have gone anywhere, but he elected to stay home and play for Lon Kruger and the Sooners, and he is the biggest thing to hit the hardwood in Norman since Buddy Hield, only with better, all-around basketball skills.

No freshman in the history of college basketball has ever led the country at season’s end in both scoring and assists, but that is exactly the position Young is in now after recording a double-double of 26 points and dishing out 22 assists in a 105-68 Oklahoma win over Northwestern State (Louisiana) on Tuesday.

Young has gone over the 20-point level in eight consecutive games and leads the nation, averaging 28.5 points and 10.2 assists a game.

When you talk about Oklahoma’s high-octane offense these days, you have to be more specific. Both the OU football team, which is getting ready to face Georgia in the College Football Playoff, and the Sooner men’s basketball team lead the nation in total offense in their respective sports.

Lincoln Riley’s football Sooners are No. 1 in total offense, producing 583.3 yards per game, and the basketball team is scoring at a nation-best clip of 94.2 points per game and gone over the century mark three times in 10 games this season and scored 90 or more on four other occasions.

The last time Oklahoma scored more than 100 points three times in a season was back 16 years ago, in 2001-02.

Young’s 22 assists – or “dimes,” as they like to refer to it in basketball terms – also set a new Oklahoma and Big 12 record. The previous high was 18 assists in a single game. The uber-talented Sooner freshman is the fourth player since the NCAA began recording assists in 1983 to reach to deliver 22 in a game, but the first freshman to do so. And he is the first player in the past 20 years to record as many as 20 points and 20 assists in a game.

The best player in the state of Oklahoma coming out of Norman North High School in OU’s backyard, Young was rated No. 23 in the ESPN 100. If he were re-evaluated today, where do you think he would be ranked? I’m pretty certain it would be much higher than 23.

Asked in the postgame press conference about tying the national assist record, Young said:

"“I didn’t know that was the record…I owe a lot of credit to my teammates. I wouldn’t be able to get assists without my teammates knocking shots down.”“That’s what I want it to be,” he said about the fan excitement and involvement during the game. “That’s what I wanted to come here to help do. I wanted to get the Lloyd Noble Center like I used to see it like a kid. I love it, I love it when the fans come out.”"

In the past two Oklahoma wins, Young has been joined by freshman teammate Brady Manek, both exceeding 20 points in the two games. On Saturday, in the Sooners’ 91-83 upset win over No. 3 Wichita State, Young had 29 and Manek 21. Tuesday night, in the blowout victory over Northwestern State, Manek was on the scoring end of several of Young’s 22 dishes, hitting nine of 11 shots and four three-pointers for 22 points.

The Sooners went over the 50-point level in both halves against Northwestern State, scoring 53 in the opening half and following that with a 52-point onslaught in the second half. OU has now exceed 50 points in seven halves this season.

Oklahoma shot a season-best 59.4 percent (41 of 69) from the field in recording its ninth win of the season with just one defeat (92-83 to Arkansas on Nov. 23 in the PK80 Invitational). That is the second best start for the Sooner men under Kruger (OU started the season 12-0 in 2015-16).