Trae Young meets extensive test against WVU defense

Trae Young meets extensive test against WVU defense

WVU Basketball

Trae Young meets extensive test against WVU defense

Dec 30, 2017; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners guard Trae Young (11) dribbles during the second half against the TCU Horned Frogs at Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Freshman phenom Trae Young is tearing up the court and even drawing comparisons to Golden State Warriors’ star Steph Curry.

The two-time NBA champion is impressed by the Oklahoma standout’s talent.

“He’s unbelievable,” Curry told ESPN. “Just the confidence that he plays with. I call it flair, but it seems like he’s always composed and knows what he’s trying to do with the ball in his hand. He shoots a lot of deep 3s and has a creativity to his game that’s cool to watch.

“He’s unbelievable. The comparisons are what they are. I know when you turn on the game and watch them play, you’re just watching him on the floor, where he is at all times. That kind of magnetism is pretty special.”

Through 13 games, Young is averaging 29.4 points and 10.6 assists per contests. He leads the nation in both categories. Also, he shoots 40 percent from long range.

On Wednesday, he scored 27 points, grabbed nine boards and dished out 10 assists in the seventh-ranked Sooners’109-89 win over Oklahoma State.

What makes the 6-foot-2, 180-pound point guard so amazing is he continues to get better. It doesn’t matter if it’s at home, on the road, non-conference play or conference play, Young dominates opponents on the court.

“The thing about it, he’s so consistent at such a high level,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger told the media. “It’s not consistent average. He’s consistent exceptional.”

When the Sooners square off against No. 6 West Virginia on Saturday, the Mountaineers must find a way to slow down the Norman native.

Dec 30, 2017; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners guard Trae Young (11) reacts in front of TCU Horned Frogs guard Kenrich Williams (34) during the second half at Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

WVU head coach Bob Huggins knows how talented Young is and that containing him won’t be an easy feat.

“He makes plays off the ball that are sensational,” Huggins said. “He’s got such a great feel for the game. When somebody throws a pass with too much air under it, he’ll make a play on it. He made some plays that broke the Oklahoma State game open on defense – not offense – because he ran through balls and got them easy baskets and got them going again.”

But the Mountaineers’ stifling defense will be the toughest one Young has seen.

Currently, WVU is riding a 13-game winning streak and will be playing in front of a soldout Coliseum.

The Mountaineers are ranked second in the nation in turnover margin (8.4), third in forced turnovers (20.5),  sixth in steals
per game (10.5) and is fourth in offensive rebounds per game (15.0).

WVU is forcing its opponents to turn it over on 27.2 percent of their possessions, second in the country and they have nearly forced more turnovers (287) than its opponents’ made field goals (289).

Dec 16, 2017; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers guard Jevon Carter (2) celebrates from the bench during the second half against the Wheeling Jesuit Cardinals at WVU Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

And Kruger knows it is going to be a challenge for not just Young but the entire Oklahoma team.

“Huge Challenge, no question West Virginia is a unique preparation for everyone,” Kruger said. “They press like other teams do but not like the other teams. Their press is as effective as any in the country. That’s their identity and they take pride in it. That will be a big challenge, not just for Trae but everyone.”

If anyone can slow down Young, it’s the country’s top defender Jevon Carter.

Carter leads the nation in steals. He plays with energy and excitement game in and game out.

However, the senior can’t do it all on his own.

Dec 16, 2017; Wichita, KS, USA; Wichita State Shockers guard Landry Shamet (11) drives to the basket against Oklahoma Sooners guard Trae Young (11) at Charles Koch Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelly Ross-USA TODAY Sports Images

“Obviously, he needs help,” Huggins said. “That’s a given with everybody, but when JC is right he’s very valuable to us at both ends. You don’t want to wear him out to where at the end of the game he can’t make plays. He’ll guard him, but he’s not going to be the only one to guard him.”

Young’s turnover rate is 16.6 but he has been known to turn the ball over a time or two. Against TCU last Saturday, he had seven turnovers.

Last season, the Mountaineers caused Wooden Award winner Frank Mason III to have one of his worst games in Morgantown.

Saturday’s contest should be a fun one for basketball fans as one of the country’s best defenses meets one of the nation’s best players.



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