NORMAN, Okla. — For one of the few times in the game, Trae Young was a point guard.
Barreling down the court with a chance to tie or win the game, Oklahoma’s sensational freshman did what he’d done all season — think scoring first but with a willingness to give up the basketball.
Young didn’t force a shot, reaching around Jevon Carter to throw the ball to Rashard Odomes under the basket.
But Odomes, after a pump fake, couldn’t get his shot to fall as No. 19-ranked West Virginia escaped with a 75-73 win over the Sooners on Monday night at Lloyd Noble Center.
Even on the Sooners’ final possession — before Young and then Odomes were bottled up — West Virginia’s defense made it difficult.
Khadeem Lattin grabbed the rebound, but Esa Ahmad deflected Lattin’s initial pass, slowing down Oklahoma’s push up the floor.
Young got a full head of steam coming up the floor but was bottled up by Carter and Sagaba Konate just outside the lane, and after a pump fake, he stretched out to find Odomes under the bucket.
Odomes reversed under the basket to try to flip the ball in but couldn’t get it to fall.
“When I got the ball, I saw a lot of open space,” Young said. “I tried to go around Konate, but I lost the ball. I didn’t want to throw up a bad shot. I saw Ro under the basket and tried to give him a look.”
Young had 32 points but was forced off the ball for much of the game.
West Virginia’s pressure defense, keyed by Carter, forced the Sooners for large parts of the game to use Odomes and Christian James to bring the ball up the floor instead of Young.
That was in an effort to keep Young fresh against Carter, perhaps the best perimeter defender in the country.
“The opportunity to not have Trae battle Carter for 94 feet,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said of the decision to take Young off the ball. “I thought it accomplished what we were after.”
Young indicated he wasn’t feeling 100 percent due to illness coming into the game but he said that was no excuse.
It was Young’s ninth 30-plus point performance of the season.
But he hadn’t had fewer than five assists in any game this season.
Young was coming off a 14-assist performance in Saturday’s loss to Texas and came in averaging a nation-best 9.7 per game.
The Sooners finished with a season-low eight assists.
Young’s lone assist didn’t come until less than two minutes remained, when he hit Lattin for an alley-oop to cut the West Virginia led to three.
The Sooners cut the led to one about a minute later, when Odomes ran out and took a long feed from James.
It was the closest Oklahoma had been to the lead since eight minutes into the game.
But they couldn’t quite get it done, as the Sooners lost for the fifth time in seven games.