West Virginia to Slow Trae Young Show in Top-10 Matchup vs. Oklahoma

Matthew Jordan

Friday, January 5, 2018 4:06 PM UTC

Friday, Jan. 5, 2018 4:06 PM UTC

It’s perhaps the best Saturday slate of games thus far this season in NCAA basketball, but one stands apart: No. 7 Oklahoma and freshman sensation Trae Young at No. 6 West Virginia.

Oklahoma Sooners at West Virginia MountaineersFree NCAAB Pick: WVUBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Tip-off for this Big 12 matchup is 7:15 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2 from Morgantown. WVU will visit Oklahoma on Feb. 5, the night after Super Bowl LII. Last year, these schools split. WVU was ranked No. 7 when it lost at home to a below-.500 OU team, 89-87 in overtime. Jordan Woodard (now gone) won it on a layup with 2.2 seconds left in OT. Woodard also tied it late in regulation on a jumper. In Norman, West Virginia won 61-50 by forcing 23 turnovers.

Oklahoma leads the all-time series 9-5. The Sooners have won four of the last six, including the last two in Morgantown. The favorite is 7-3 ATS in the past 10 meetings.

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The Next Steph Curry?

How good is the 2018 NBA Draft class going to be? There are some amazing freshmen in NCAA basketball this season, guys like Duke’s Marvin Bagley Jr., Arizona’s Deandre Ayton and Texas’ Mohamed Bamba just to name three. But the best of the bunch and the clear-cut favorite for the Wooden Award is Oklahoma freshman Trae Young, who is starting to draw comparisons to Steph Curry.

All the 6-foot-2 guard from Norman is doing right now is leading the country in scoring (29.4 ppg) and assists (10.6 apg). He has topped 30 points five times already, with a season-high 43 in a win over Oregon in November. Young also had an absurd 26-point, 22-assist game on Dec. 16 vs. Northwestern State. He has had at least 25 points and 10 assists in seven of his 13 games this season, which is only the most of any player’s college career in the past 20 years.

Oklahoma (11-1 SU, 6-6 ATS) was a terrible team last year at 11-20 but has just that one loss so far, coming in a Thanksgiving tournament vs. Arkansas. The Sooners have knocked off then-No. 25 USC, won at No. 3 Wichita State and won at previously unbeaten and No. 10 TCU. On Wednesday, OU dropped 109 points in a 20-point victory over blood rival Oklahoma State. Young finished with 27 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds – one rebound shy of the first points-rebounds-assists triple-double in school history.

Young also became the first Oklahoma player ever with 12 straight games of at least 20 points. Former OU greats Stacey King and Wayman Tisdale held the previous mark at 11 straight. It was the first time Oklahoma scored at least 100 points against Oklahoma State since 1990. The Sooners lead the country in scoring at 95.8 ppg and are shooting 50.6 percent from the field.

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The game with No. 6 WVU and No. 7 OU marks the 6th time (5 under @CoachHuggs) WVU has hosted a game when both teams are in the Top 10.

#10 WVU, #1 Baylor (2017)
#10 WVU, #3 Oklahoma (2016)
#5 WVU, #4 Villanova (2010)
#10 WVU, #5 Syracuse (2010)
#3 WVU, #9 Villanova (1960) pic.twitter.com/lCIicnGsa5

— WVU Basketball (@WVUhoops) January 2, 2018

13 And Counting For WVU …

West Virginia (13-1 SU, 5-5 ATS) lost its season opener to a good Texas A&M team and hasn’t obviously been beaten since. While WVU hasn’t played as tough a schedule as Oklahoma, the Mountaineers do have good wins over Missouri and Virginia out of conference and have opened Big 12 play with road wins at Oklahoma State and Kansas State. WVU’s 13-game winning streak is its longest since the 1988-89 team won 22 games in a row.

Coach Bob Huggins has been without forward Esa Ahmad all season after failing to meet NCAA eligibility requirements. Ahmad was the team's second-leading scorer and third-leading rebounder last season, averaging 11.3 points and 4.3 rebounds and will become eligible next Saturday vs. Texas Tech. In his place, the Mountaineers have six players averaging at least 8.5 points, led by Jevon Carter’s 16.6.

Huggins’ teams always are among the best in the nation defensively as they use full-court pressure for all 40 minutes. WVU allows 64.9 points per game and is among national leaders in turnover margin (8.4), forced turnovers (20.5) and steals (10.5) per game. West Virginia has forced just two fewer turnovers (287) than its opponents’ have made field goals (289). Carter leads the nation in steals per game at 3.7.

The Verdict

This will be just the sixth time WVU has hosted a game with both teams ranked in the AP Top 10. An OU victory would make it the first school with three road wins over Top-10 teams since Duke in 2014-15. Young is an amazing talent and he’ll get his points, but the Mountaineers are going to trap him all over the court and make others beat them. WVU covers on the NCAAB picks.

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