Following Oklahoma's 75-73 loss to West Virginia, freshman Trae Young sat before the media with a black hat hanging over his eyes and a defeated look on his face.
Young's feeling is probably mutual across Sooner Nation, with Oklahoma dropping five of their last seven and suffering their first home-loss of the season. The Sooners (16-7, 6-5 Big 12) were dependent on Young the majority of the night against the Mountaineers (18-6, 7-4 Big 12), as he scored 32 points on 50 percent shooting. But as West Virginia did earlier this season, it shut down Young's ability to find his teammates, holding him to a season-low one assist.
"I think they tried to stay home on my shooters, on my teammates to make it tough on me," Young said.
After West Virginia missed a free throw with 13 seconds remaining, Young raced down the court, looking to make the game-winning play. He found junior guard Rashard Odomes under the basket with just seconds left.
"I saw a lot of open space," Young said. "I didn't want to throw up a bad shot."
Young would have been have better off shooting a ridiculous shot, as Odomes and senior forward Khadeem Lattin missed multiple opportunities to tie the game. With one timeout remaining, coach Lon Kruger trusted Young with the ball in his hands.
"We had the open court for Trae, and liked what he had," coach Lon Kruger said. "(We) told Trae if he had an open court, don't call (timeout). We had a good look."
Young fell short for one of the few times in his career, attempting to put the team on his back late, like he has all season. He mystified the crowd with step-back 3s. He sparked a fire in the Lloyd Noble Center with a double clutch layup off the top of the goal. And he gave his team a chance to win, bringing them back from 11 down.
Even with all that, Young wasn't himself Monday night. With reports of him battling illness, Young looked tired and was short on a lot of his shots, most likely due to playing all 40 minutes against Texas just 48 hours before. But Young wouldn't budge post game saying he was "fine" and that was just "part of basketball."
"It’s that time of year in the Big 12. Everyone feels pretty much the same," Kruger said. "You’re gonna have stretches that are challenging. I don’t think that was the problem... No one complained about being tired or anything."
While no one may have said they were tired, it was clearly visible Monday night. Having to play in conference as grueling as the Big 12, the Sooners have every right to be tired.
But Young said it best, that's part of basketball, you have to move on.
"Like coach said, it’s that time of the year that you gotta play through it," Young said. "I wasn’t feeling very good, but I’m not gonna make any excuses. I mean, that’s the nature of basketball. I’m going to go out there and compete and give it my all."