Illness, Mountaineers stifle Oklahoma's Trae Young

WVU holds off Young, Oklahoma (1:53)

Despite Trae Young's 32 points, West Virginia sees three starters score in double digits in a 75-73 win. (1:53)

NORMAN, Okla. -- Trae Young battled an illness.

He couldn't buy an assist.

When he had a chance to defeat West Virginia, or at least send the game to overtime, Oklahoma's star freshman couldn't get off his shot.

As a result, the 19th-ranked Mountaineers toppled the Sooners 75-73 at the Lloyd Noble Center on Big Monday, passing Young and No. 17 Oklahoma for third place in the Big 12 standings.

On the day Young made the Wooden Award late-season watch list, he came down with an illness. Two days after playing all 40 minutes in a loss at Texas, Young uncharacteristically sat for three minutes in the first half Monday against the Mountaineers, though he downplayed the effect being sick might have had on his energy level.

"It's that time of year. You just gotta play through it," said Young, who didn't disclose the nature of the illness. "I wasn't feeling very good. But I'm not going to make any excuses. That's the nature of basketball. You gotta go out there and compete."

The combination of Young's condition and West Virginia's defensive strategy allowed the Mountaineers to control the flow from the opening tip. With defensive bulldog Jevon Carter primed to hound Young all game, Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger opted to have other Sooners bring the ball down the court against West Virginia's patented press, with the goal of keeping Young from getting fatigued.

Playing Young off the ball so much, however, is one reason the nation's assist leader failed to record an assist until the final minute-and-a-half of the game. Lacking any surge dashing into the frontcourt, Young struggled to create open shots for his teammates. When he did create them, his fellow Sooners misfired.

Young still had 32 points. But Carter made him work for them and helped harass Young into six turnovers.

"I don't know," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said when asked how the Mountaineers (18-6, 7-4 Big 12) held Young to a single assist. "He's terrific. But the guy [Carter] guarding him is pretty good. He's not going to play against anyone better than the guy that was guarding him."

The other Mountaineers, meanwhile, took away Young's lob passes to the rim as well as his kickouts to the perimeter.

"They tried to stay home, on my shooters and then make it tough on me," Young said. "I wasn't able to get a lot of assists because [the Mountaineers] were there. That was their game plan."

With all that working against him, Young still delivered flashes of brilliance down the stretch. With the game about to get away from the Sooners (16-7, 6-5) with 10 minutes to play, he surveyed the floor, then used a subtle screen from teammate to Jamuni McNeace to knock down a 30-foot 3-pointer. On Oklahoma's following possession, he shook off Carter from the wing before drilling another 3.

Young's highlight of the night, however, came moments later off the break.

Oklahoma's Brady Manek collected a defensive rebound and heaved the ball downcourt to Young streaking down the floor. With a pair of Mountaineers about to crash down on him, Young bounded underneath the basket before spinning the ball off the top of the backboard, then through the rim, slicing West Virginia's lead to three.

But after that, Young lost his groove. He fired up a heat-check 3 that missed badly. Then he drove wildly into the paint before bricking an attempt off the rim. Two possessions later, he missed another contested 3 attempt.

At the other end, West Virginia took advantage and reassumed control off Esa Ahmad's one-handed hammer dunk with three minutes to play.

"They were more physical, for sure," said Kruger, whose Sooners limited West Virginia to 27 percent shooting in the second half but gave up nine offensive rebounds after halftime. "They're big. They're strong."

Even so, Oklahoma had a chance at the end. After Ahmad missed the back end of a one-and-one with 13 seconds remaining, the Sooners' Khadeem Lattin grabbed the rebound and tried to flip the ball quickly to Young. But the ball was tipped, sapping Young's momentum.

Young regathered and drove up the court but fumbled the ball again, eliminating the opportunity for a decent shot.

"I didn't want to throw up a bad shot," Young said. "I saw Ro [Rashard Odomes] under the basket. So I tried to give him a look."

Underscoring how the night went for Young and the Sooners, Odomes blew the layup.

"We had the open court for Trae and liked what we had," Kruger said. "He had a good look. We had a couple looks at it."