Oklahoma, Young try to recover from back-to-back losses
By CLIFF BRUNT
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) Trae Young is facing adversity for the first time in his remarkable freshman season.
The 6-foot-2 point guard has thrilled fans with his deep shooting range, lightning quickness and pinpoint passing. But critics say he tried to do too much in losses to Kansas State and Oklahoma State last week. Against Kansas State, he committed 12 turnovers and had more shot attempts than points for the first time this season. Even though he matched a Big 12 record with 48 points against Oklahoma State, he took 39 shots.
Young said he's not worried about outside noise heading into Tuesday's game against No. 5 Kansas. He'll enter the game with nation-leading averages of 30.5 points and 9.7 assists for the 12th-ranked Sooners.
"Just like I've always done, just prove how I play, let my game do the talking" Young said Monday. "Go out and try to prove it that way. That's all I can do. Can't let it do too much to me, can't let it affect my game. Just got to play the next game."
Young said he will make some adjustments, though. He understands that he needs to be more efficient and get his teammates more involved for the Sooners to be successful.
"I'm going to be playing a little different from now on," he said. "Nothing major. I mean, we're 14-4? That's not a bad record. Just playing a little different. There's some reads I could have made that I didn't make. I've just got to get better. I looked at film and I'm going to make some adjustments."
Young is especially upset by missing shots at the buzzer at the end of regulation and overtime against Oklahoma State that could have been game winners.
"I felt like it was a game we should have won," he said. "Coming down to the wire, I felt like made a couple of mistakes I shouldn't have made, but I've got to learn from it and come back for tomorrow."
Kansas coach Bill Self knows exactly what he's up against. Young said one of his toughest calls last year was to tell Self he wouldn't be joining the Jayhawks.
"He's unbelievable with the ball, he has great acceleration, he has unbelievable vision," Self said. "You could take away his shot and still yet, they come away with two or three points. He's as good as we've had to defend because of the focus he has with that team. He's a part of just about everything they do on the offensive end.
"The challenge is, how do you guard everybody else, because they can all make shots and they can all score, but still yet, how do you not let him have huge numbers?"
The Jayhawks know slowing him down will need to be done as a team.
"I think it's just the system he's in," Kansas guard Devonte Graham said. "It's perfect for how he plays. The freedom that coach gives him and just him playing off of being aggressive and trying to make plays - it's going to be hard to guard him. You try to contain him, but we've got to do our best to keep him from being in that attack mode 24-7."
It's not just about Young getting back on track, it's about the Sooners getting it going. Oklahoma fell eight spots in the new AP poll released Monday. Turning the tide will be a challenge against the Big 12-leading Jayhawks, who haven't been dominant but just keep winning games.
"They're still Kansas," Oklahoma guard Christian James said. "They're still Kansas at the end of the day. They're number one in the league. We want to come out and play as hard as possible and let the chips fall where they do."
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Updated January 22, 2018