LOS ANGELES (AP) — The first month of Trae Young’s college basketball career has been one superlative after another.
The freshman guard had 29 points and nine assists to help Oklahoma edge No. 25 Southern California 85-83 on Friday night in the Hall of Fame Basketball Classic tripleheader.
Young, a freshman who leads the nation in scoring, topped 28 points for the sixth straight game. He ended last month averaging 28.8 points, 8.8 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals.
December is getting off to a similar start.
“Trae brings a skill that not a lot of people have,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. “The players appreciate and recognize that and do a good job of playing off of him. You can run a lot of different things with the ball in Trey’s hands.”
Christian James added 19 points, tying his career-high with five 3-pointers, and Brady Manek had 15 points for the Sooners (7-1), who won their fifth in a row.
“It makes it a lot easier when your teammates are as good as mine,” Young said. “When they’re able to knock down shots and make plays on their own it makes it a lot easier on me. The last 5 minutes of the game I feel like is on me. We had a pretty big lead that I let the other team get back in the game.”
Elijah Stewart led five players in double figures with 23 points for the Trojans (4-3), who never led in losing their third straight. Chimezie Metu had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
After trailing by 18 early in the second half, the Trojans made things interesting in the final minute when the Sooners faltered at the free throw line.
Oklahoma missed its last four free throw attempts, including two by Young.
“I know that we’re in the Staples Center,” Young said. “I was trying to knock them down like Kobe does.”
Jordan McLaughlin, who finished with 20 points and nine assists, scored five in a row to get the Trojans to 85-83. But his potential game-winning 3-point attempt from midcourt missed at the buzzer.
“We fight all the way to the end,” Stewart said. “We had a good look going at the end. Half-court shots are always tough to make. It was right there for us, we just fell short.”
Oklahoma made 15 3-pointers, tying its season high set against Ball State. The Sooners began both halves with a barrage of 3s. Five of their first six baskets to start the second half were from long range and that helped them extend their lead to 65-50.
The Sooners came out firing, hitting three quick 3-pointers to start the game. They kept it up and moved out to a 20-10 lead, making 3-pointers on six of their first seven baskets.
USC closed within two before Oklahoma pushed its lead to 13 points. Young scored seven of the Sooners’ last nine points of the half to send them into the break leading 48-36.
Young alluded to his future plans when he talked about playing well in two NBA arenas: Staples Center and Moda Center in Portland. “I feel like that’s a good sign,” he said. “This is definitely a dream come true, to be at the highest level. Playing at Staples Center is legendary.”
The Sooners were in Staples Center, home to OU alum Blake Griffin of the Clippers. He didn’t attend.
OU VS PAC-12
The Sooners are 4-0 against Pac-12 opponents under Kruger, including 2-0 this season, having beaten Oregon last month. OU improved to 7-5 all-time against the Trojans and 3-3 in games in Los Angeles.
Oklahoma continues rolling behind its prolific offensive output. The Sooners have scored at least 82 points in all seven of their wins and they came in averaging 94.4 points, second-best in the nation. The win should lift them into the Top 25 next week.
After being ranked No. 10 and winning four straight to open the season, USC is on a downward slide. The loss will drop the Trojans out of the Top 25 with just over two weeks left until they begin Pac-12 play. “We are where we deserve to be right now,” coach Andy Enfield said. “We have played well at times and been inconsistent at times.”
Oklahoma: Plays Wichita State on Dec. 16.
USC: Hosts Santa Clara on Thursday, the start of three straight home games before heading to Hawaii for a Christmas tournament.