NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Only one thing was going to slow Oklahoma point guard Trae Young’s offensive onslaught Tuesday night.
“He got subbed out,” Baylor coach Scott Drew quipped. “Put up the white flag, and they took him out for a second.”
Young scored 31 of his 44 points in the second half to help No. 12 Oklahoma hold off Baylor 98-96. The freshman, who leads the nation in scoring and assists, scored at least 40 points for the fourth time this season and the third time in the past six games.
Young, just 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, is best known for making deep 3-pointers and highlight-reel passes. Against Baylor, he focused on attacking the basket and made 16 of 19 free throws.
“Trae Young is a special player,” Drew said. “His 3-point shot is obviously elite. What we tried to do was not get him on the free-throw line. As you can see, we weren’t effective there.”
Young made 11 of 20 shots from the field, including 6 of 11 3-pointers, in one of his best shooting games of the season. He was criticized by some for his 48-point outburst against Oklahoma State because he took 39 shots and the Sooners lost. He learned his lesson and has been more selective with his shots since, though he wowed the crowd with several deep 3s against Baylor.
“I don’t think you can say I was inefficient tonight,” Young said. “I remember against Oklahoma State, I had a lot of points but wasn’t efficient. But I was glad that I was very efficient and my teammates did a great job of scoring as well.”
Rashard Odomes scored 18 points, Brady Manek had 16 and Khadeem Lattin added 15 for the Sooners (16-5, 6-3 Big 12).
“When they’re knocking down shots, it’s a lot easier for me to score, and they did a great job of that tonight,” Young said.
Young was more effective closer to the hoop than he had been in recent games. Against Oklahoma State, for example, he made just 6 of 19 shots inside the 3-point line.
“I’m just wanting to make the right play,” he said. “I saw some gaps early on in the game. Got the bigs involved off some pick-and-rolls and things like that. Just wanted to be aggressive and make the right play.”
Oklahoma played short-handed — guard Christian James was out with the flu, and forward Jamuni McNeace played limited minutes because of an ankle injury.
Manu Lecomte scored 29 points and Nuni Omot scored 23 for Baylor (12-10, 2-7), which lost its fourth straight.
Oklahoma led 97-96 when Baylor’s Jake Lindsey was fouled with 4.7 seconds remaining. Lindsey missed the free throw and Oklahoma rebounded. Odomes was fouled with 3.9 seconds to play. He made the first free throw and missed the second, but Baylor’s King McClure missed a wild shot at the buzzer.
“Jake is crying in the locker room thinking that he cost us the game,” Drew said. “He didn’t cost us the game. Everybody misses free throws. But he is a winner. He is going to take it hard, but that is what you expect from winners.”
Baylor: The Bears missed a chance to revive a season that had been falling off the rails. They did a lot of things right but could not handle Young in the second half.
Oklahoma: The Sooners bounced back from a loss to Alabama on Saturday and remained within striking distance of Big 12 leader Kansas.
Young’s season scoring average jumped from 29.6 to 30.3. He joined Wayman Tisdale and Jeff Webster as the only freshmen in school history with at least 600 points.
Drew, on what worked for Young: “The free-throw line worked for him. He got to the line more than our whole team. There was no defense there. He did a great job getting fouled. That was the best thing he did.”