Sooners' Young exploits Oregon's youth
Trae Young was one of the most sought high school basketball recruits in the country last season. The 6-2 guard from Norman, Oklahoma chose to play his college ball in his hometown rather than going to play for the Kansas Jayhawks.
On Sunday morning, the final day of the PK 80 Invitational, Young showed Oregon why he was so coveted. He scored a tournament-high 43 points on 11-of-22 shooting — including an 17-of-18 performance from the foul line — as Oklahoma improved to 4-1 with a 90-80 victory over Oregon in the Victory Bracket fifth-place game. The Ducks closed out the tourney with a record of 1-2 (5-2 this season).
Paul White led the Ducks with a season-high 17 points, and Elijah Brown chipped in with 14.
Former West Linn High standout Payton Pritchard, who was coming off a 29-point performance in the win against DePaul on Friday, had 10 points but was 5 for 15 from the field and 0 for 5 from behind the arc.
While the Ducks allowed a season high in points, Oregon coach Dana Altman seemed to be more displeased with his team's offensive execution.
"Way too much dribbling. Ball has got to move. Our guards are just pounding it, and then our forwards get in and they pound it. So that is going to change. I can control that," Altman said, adding, "we got beat in every phase of the game."
Oregon and Oklahoma scrimmaged in Las Vegas on Nov. 4, before the regular season, so the two teams were familiar with each other. Young knew coming in that the Ducks would give him a lot of different looks on defense. But whether it was using a half-court trap, man-to-man or a zone defense, Oregon had no answer for Young, who scored 30 points in the second half.
"They were doing a lot of switching, so I was able to take advantage when I had a big guy on me," Young said. "My teammates did a great job knocking down shots, and that really opened the floor for me."
Unlike in the first two games of the tournament, the Ducks got off to a hot start, hitting seven of their first eight shots.
Oregon was only able to make four of its next 15, however, over an eight-minute stretch, and the Sooners took advantage.
Creating second-chance points and forcing Oregon turnovers, Oklahoma went on an 18-3 run to take a 26-19 lead before the second TV timeout.
The Sooners extended their lead to nine later in the half, but 3-pointers from Paul White and Victor Bailey Jr. led the Ducks on a 7-0 run that cut the lead to 37-35. The Sooners then made an 8-0 run and led 48-40 at the break.
One of the biggest stories in the game was the discrepancy in free throws. Oklahoma was 34 of 44 while the Ducks were 10 of 14.
"We had a lot of bad fouls," Altman said. "When you put anybody on the free-throw line 44 times, you're probably not going to have much success."
As the second half got underway, Oregon fans started to see their team chip away. After a dunk by Kenny Wooten, back-to-back jumpers by Troy Brown and Elijah Brown brought the lead down to three. A dunk in transition by Bailey, followed by a corner 3 from Mikyle McIntosh, gave the Ducks a 62-61 lead with 10:25 remaining. It was Oregon's first lead since the 15-minute mark in the first half.
However, silly fouls and poor defensive possessions led to Oregon's demise.
Wooten was a great interior presence for Oregon for most of the game, blocking four shots and affecting several others. But he committed his fourth foul 90 feet from the hoop with 9:11 left, forcing Altman to put him on the bench.
After Oregon regained the lead, the Sooners responded with a 13-4 run to gain an eight-point advantage. A 3 from White stopped the bleeding momentarily, but a sequence from Young on the following two Oklahoma possessions put the game away.
With the shot clock running down, Young put fellow five-star freshman Troy Brown into a spin cycle and hit the turnaround jumper. Following a 3-point miss on the other end, Young came down the floor and pulled up for a deep 3. Young buried the shot for his fourth triple of the game and gave a Michael Jordan-like shrug to the Oregon fans as he went back on defense.
Oklahoma took a 79-69 lead on the shot — the first time it was up by double digits — and the Sooners controlled the tempo for the remaining five minutes.
A scary moment for the Ducks came down the stretch, when McIntosh and Troy Brown went after a loose ball. Brown appeared to be hit in the head on the play and remained on the ground for a few minutes while being tended to by the Oregon medical staff.
"I saw him in there talking to doctors. I think (Brown) is okay," Altman said.
Whether it be Joseph Young or Dillon Brooks, Oregon had had unquestioned leaders in the past four seasons. That aspect looks to be missing for this Ducks team.
"We aren't getting any leadership on the offensive end," Altman said.
Altman might be disappointed in his team right now, but his friend and former co-worker Lon Kruger — the Oklahoma coach — expects Oregon to be successful this season. Altman worked as an assistant for Krueger at Kansas State from 1986 to 1990.
Kruger said the Ducks "will be great. They will win a ton of games. Dana will figure it out like he always does."