PORTLAND, Ore. — Whether it’s breaking down the defense and getting to the rim, or lining up shots from deep, Trae Young continues to look very little like a freshman.
Young scored 18 of his 33 points during Oklahoma’s big first half, Khadeem Lattin added 19 points and 16 rebounds, and the Sooners pulled away in the final five minutes to beat Portland 93-71 on Friday in the consolation bracket of the PK80 Invitational.
Young continued the outstanding start to his career with a first-half flurry that gave the Sooners a 46-31 lead at halftime. He then came up with big baskets late in the second half after Portland had rallied, trimming a 23-point deficit to five. Young had 10 points during a 15-2 run that finally put away the pesky Pilots.
Young has scored at least 20 points in each of his last three games and has been the Sooners (3-1) leading scorer in every game this season.
“My teammates knocking down shots. Whenever they’re knocking down shots it makes it a lot easier for me,” Young said. “And then getting the ball out quick. Khadeem getting a lot of boards and got the ball out really fast to me and I was able to get out in transition.”
JoJo Walker led the Pilots (2-3) with 15 points, while Josh McSwiggan and Franklin Porter both added 13. The Pilots were 8 of 18 on 3-pointers in the second half helping to fuel their rally.
But it was too much to overcome after Oklahoma’s big close to the first half. Leading by four, the Sooners finished the first half on a 21-10 spurt. Young got the run started with a 3-pointer and had nine of Oklahoma’s 21 points to close the half.
Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger was pleased with the response after the Sooners lost to Arkansas in the tournament opener.
“I thought we responded very well, especially at the defensive end. … Defensively I thought we were pretty solid that first half,” Kruger said. “It’s good to see that. Anytime you have back-to-back games early in the year you’re never sure.”
Portland trailed by as many as 23 with just under 15 minutes remaining but started to get hot from deep and trimmed away at the lead. The Pilots had the ball down by eight with 7:57 left but Marcus Shaver’s open 3 rimmed out. After an Oklahoma turnover, McSwiggan hit a 3 with the shot clock about to expire and the Pilots were as close as they had been since it was 25-21 late in the first half.
That would be the end of Portland’s rally. Matt Freeman and Young scored on consecutive possessions to push the lead back to nine and Lattin’s putback with 4:44 left took the advantage to 11. The Pilots would get no closer.
“We really showed a lot of resilience, a lot of fight on our part, which was great to see,” Portland coach Terry Porter said.
Portland: The Pilots will be pleased with the resolve in cutting into the big deficit. But the Pilots shot just 39 percent for the game and had 12 turnovers in the first half.
Oklahoma: While Oklahoma allowed Portland to rally in the second half it was an efficient performance by the Sooners. Oklahoma shot 54 percent in the second half and committed just four turnovers.
BACK IN THE COLISEUM
Terry Porter had some flashbacks to his playing career during the game that aws played inside Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Porter entire career playing for the Portland Trail Blazers was spent playing in the Coliseum.
“First time I’ve gotten in that building and wasn’t making baskets,” Porter said. “… It’s nice to see them play basketball in this building again that’s for sure.”
Portland: The Pilots will play either DePaul or Oregon on Sunday.
Oklahoma: The Sooners will face either DePaul or Oregon on Sunday.