NORMAN, Okla. — Baylor got its first look at Oklahoma freshman phenom Trae Young and he was as good as advertised.
Young burned the Bears for 44 points and nine assists as the No. 12 Sooners held off a furious Baylor rally to pull out a 98-96 win Tuesday night at the Lloyd Noble Center.
Young, who leads the nation in scoring and assists, hit 11 of 20 field goals, including six of 11 from 3-point range. Young also nailed 16 of 19 free throws.
The Bears (12-10, 2-7) had a great shot to hand the Sooners (16-5, 6-3) their first home loss. But Oklahoma made the key plays in the final minute to improve to 11-0 at home.
King McClure gave the Bears a 96-93 lead when he drilled a 3-pointer with 1:04 remaining. Young hit Khadeem Lattin inside for a slam as the Sooners pulled within one.
After Baylor’s Jo Lual-Acuil badly missed a 3-pointer, Young came through again as he drew a foul on a drive in the paint and hit a pair of free throws to give the Sooners a 97-96 edge with 23 seconds remaining.
Baylor had a chance to take the lead when Jake Lindsey drew a foul with 4.7 seconds remaining. But he missed the first free throw in a one-and-one situation and fouled former Copperas Cove star Rashard Odomes.
Odomes, who scored 18 points for the Sooners, hit the first of two free throws to give the Sooners a 98-96 lead. McClure missed a desperation 3-point attempt at the end.
“It doesn’t feel good not winning,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew. “Trae Young is a great player and he got to the free throw line 19 times. You put him at the free throw line and it’s automatic. We’ve had a lot of special players in the Big 12 and he’s one of the best ever.”
Manu Lecomte hit seven of 15 3-pointers and collected 29 points while Nuni Omot hit all six of his 3-pointers and scored 23 for the Bears. But Young’s fourth 40-point game of the season and some key offensive rebounds by the Sooners were too much for the Bears.
“The common denominator in our games like this is that we haven’t rebounded in the last few minutes,” Drew said. “You can’t give a good team second chances. We only had eight turnovers and that was tremendous. Offensively we played well enough to win.”
With Omot’s 3-pointer, the Bears tied the Sooners at 81 with 6:55 remaining. Young answered with a 3-pointer but Tristan Clark came back with a hook shot for the Bears.
Once again, Young answered as he drained a 3-pointer. But Omot and Lecomte came back with 3-pointers to give the Bears an 89-87 lead before the final flurry in the closing minutes.
After getting off to slow starts in their last three losses, the Bears scored the first two baskets against the Sooner as Lual-Acuil got inside twice.
With Odomes’ slam, the Sooners pulled into a 7-7 tie but the Bears answered with Lecomte’s 3-pointer and a pair of Lindsey free throws.
The Bears kept rolling as Lindsey drove for a basket and Omot came off the bench for a 3-pointer to open up a 17-13 lead. But the Sooners answered with six straight points as Young hit a pair of free throws and Odomes got inside twice for baskets.
After Omot drove for a basket, Young buried a long 3-pointer to give the Sooners a 22-19 lead with 11:57 left in the first half. Omot came back with a 3-pointer but Odomes answered with a pair of 3-pointers.
Young then buried his second 3-pointer and then hit Lattin for a slam to stretch Oklahoma’s lead to 33-26.
Next it was Oklahoma’s other talented freshman who got hot as Brady Manek drained a pair of 3-pointers. Young passed to Lattin again for a basket, and he also drew a foul and hit the free throw to give the Sooners a 42-33 lead.
Lecomte converted a four-point play for the Bears when he drew a foul while nailing a 3-pointer and followed with the free throw to cut Oklahoma’s lead to 44-39. The Sooners took a 52-46 lead into halftime.
After scoring 12 first-half points, Lecomte stayed hot to open the second half as he drained a pair of 3-pointers and hit a free throw. But the Bears couldn’t stop Young as he hit another long 3-pointer, nailed a pair of free throws and scored on a drive past Lual-Acuil as the Sooners hung on for a 59-57 edge.
The Bears had a chance to tie the game with 16:24 left in the game but Vital hit one of two free throw attempts. Manek scored the Sooners’ next two baskets as he took a Young alley-oop pass for a slam and followed with a 3-pointer to give the Sooners a 64-58 edge.
Despite Young’s prolific scoring, the Bears kept pushing as Clark drilled a 3-pointer and Mark Vital drove inside twice for baskets. With Lecomte’s 3-pointer from the top of the arc, the Bears pulled into a 76-76 tie with 8:43 remaining.
But Young drew a foul from Vital on a 3-point attempt and nailed all three free throws. After Lattin blocked Terry Maston’s shot, Young hit two more free throws to give the Sooners a 81-76 lead with 7:46 remaining.