NORMAN, Okla. — After another triple-digit offensive performance, it was Oklahoma’s defense that made coach Lon Kruger the happiest on Wednesday night.
Freshman guard Trae Young had 22 points and 13 assists for his second double-double in as many games and Oklahoma rolled past Ball State 108-69. More importantly for Kruger, the Sooners limited the Cardinals to 20 fewer points than Oklahoma’s opening-day foe, Omaha.
“I thought we set a nice tone defensively early,” Kruger said. “Rashard (Odomes) picking up the ball really established a lot of good stuff and the other guys fell in line down on the defensive end, keeping them uncomfortable for the most part. Then we really pushed the ball offensively. A lot of guys made a lot of good plays.”
Young, named the Big 12 Conference’s player of the week after a 15-point, 10-assist outing in the win over Omaha on Sunday, went 5 of 10 from 3-point range against Ball State while playing only 26 minutes.
Four Sooners scored in double figures, including Khadeem Lattin (20 points), Brady Manek (16) and Christian James (13). Oklahoma scored in triple digits for only the sixth time in Kruger’s seven seasons with the Sooners — but for the second time in as many games.
“We’ll take that every night,” Kruger said. “That happens when you get the ball out of the backcourt quickly and attack the defense, get the court set and make that extra pass. The guys did a good job of that tonight.”
Jontrell Walker led Ball State (0-2) with 23 points while Kyle Mallers had 17. Unlike in a one-point loss at Dayton in the season opener — when the Cardinals lost in the final second — Ball State never was in the game against Oklahoma (2-0).
The Sooners shot 56.8 percent from the field and never trailed, jumping to a 16-3 lead in the first four minutes of the game as James, Young, Manek and Young again hit 3-pointers during that span. The Sooners led 60-31 at halftime after Young’s fourth 3-pointer and were up by as many as 41 points in the second half.
“I thought Oklahoma had a great game plan,” Ball State coach James Whitford said. “They pressed us on every field goal that they scored and didn’t let us get the ball inbounds and up quickly and that’s the first time I’ve seen them do that. I thought that made it very hard on us and I thought it led to a lot of bad decisions for us on offense, which made their offense easy for them.”
The game served as the on-campus portion of the Nike-sponsored PK80 tournament for Oklahoma.
Ball State: Games against power-conference foes like Oklahoma (and, later, Oregon and Notre Dame) should help prepare the Cardinals for a run at what would be their third straight Mid-American Conference West Division title and third straight 20-win season.
Oklahoma: The Sooners’ offense appears to be in high gear before a challenging early-season tournament in which they could potentially face No. 9 North Carolina and No. 2 Michigan State. The question for Oklahoma is how Young will respond against foes that aren’t necessarily overmatched.
THE OTHER FRESHMAN
Somewhat overshadowed by the hype surrounding Young has been an impressive start to the season by Manek, another high-profile freshman for the Sooners. After an 11-point, six-rebound performance against Omaha, Manek went 6 of 8 from the field – including 4 of 5 from 3-point range – and again scored in double figures against Ball State.
“He’s hard to deal with,” Whitford said of Manek. “They’re a hard combination, because they’re picking for each other and they can create problems for you. Manek helps Young and Young helps Manek. Manek stretches the floor as a (power forward) and that’s good for Young, because he can pass.”
Added Young: “He’s an outstanding player, very smart, can really shoot the ball and spread the defense. Very athletic, as you can tell. He’s just a really good player.”
Ball State: Hosts Stony Brook on Friday in the Cardinals’ lone home game among their first six contests before heading to Oregon to face the Ducks on Sunday.
Oklahoma: Off until a Nov. 23 game vs. Arkansas in Portland, Oregon, as part of the PK80 tournament, then will face North Carolina or Portland on Nov. 24 and either Oregon, DePaul, Connecticut or Michigan State on Nov. 26.