Trae Young scores 44 as Sooners edge Baylor 98-96


Trae Young unloaded for 31 second-half points and Oklahoma held off a Baylor team that failed to be put away for a 98-96 home victory on Tuesday night.

The Sooners shot 53.6 percent for the game and overcame 13 turnovers to keep their home winning streak alive at a perfect 11-0 this season and 14 consecutive home victories at Lloyd Noble Center dating back to last season.

Young, the nation’s leader in scoring and assists, scored 14 of the Sooners the final 22 points on his way to a 44-point performance. He made 11 of 20 field goals, including six of 11 from three-point range. The OU freshman point guard also drained 16 of 19 at the free-throw line.

Oklahoma took its first lead in the game, 18-17, at the 12:41 mark in the first half and held the advantage until Baylor went ahead 90-89 with 3:05 remaining in the game.

A pair of Baylor three-point shots widened the Bears’ advantage to 96-93 with 67 seconds remaining in regulation. But a dunk by Khadeem Lattin cut the Baylor lead to a single point and three made free throws by Young and Rashard Odomes finished out the scoring. A three-point attempt from half court by Baylor’s King McClure was off the mark at the buzzer, and the 12th-ranked Sooners escaped with a two-point victory for their 16th win of the season against five losses.

Young’s counterpart for Baylor, senior Manu Lecompte, finished with 29 points, including seven of 15 from beyond the three-point line. Nuni Omot attempted six treys for the Bears and made all six. It seemed as the game progressed that every time a Baylor player let loose with a three-ball it would hit nothing but net on its way through the cylinder.

OU opened up several leads of four or seven points in the second half,, only to have a Baylor three-ball wipe out most if not all of the OU advantage.

The Bears made 15 of 29 three-point attempts, many of them wide-open shots.

Sooner starter Christian James was suffering from the flu and did not play in the game. Four Sooner starters, however, reached double digits in the scoring column, In addition to Young’s game-high 44 points, Odomes had 18, Brady Manek 16, on four of five on three-point attempts and Lattin, the only senior among the OU starters, contributed 15.

This is the fourth time this season Young has exceeded 40 points in a game, a new Big 12 record.

The Sooners got the win, but their defensive effort once again was deplorable for a team with 16 wins and ranked in the top 15 in the country. Baylor shot 47 percent overall and 51.7 percent from behind the arc. OU also got virtually nothing from their bench. In a collective 35 minutes of action, five Sooner reserves scored zero points. This compares with 33 points by the Baylor reserves.

The lack of bench scoring is a major problem and is sure to cost Oklahoma down the road.

OU’s five starters are on the floor at the same time just 30 percent of the time, according to an analysis reported by staff writer Ryan Aber of the Oklahoma City Oklahoman. This means that reserves are on the floor the other 70 percent of time. To get little or no contribution from the bench players is not sustainable for the Sooners to continue having success and advance beyond the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

Three of Baylor’s seven Big 12 losses are by three points or less. Baylor’s overall record drops to 12-10 and 2-7 in Big 12 action. The Sooners move to 6-3 in the conference, with games ahead against Texas in Austin on Saturday and back at Lloyd Noble Center to host West Virginia next Monday.