Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Trae Young ends one-and-done year by going one-and-done in NCAA Tournament
By ADAM ZAGORIAPITTSBURGH — Trae Young ended his one-and-done year at Oklahoma by going one-and-done in the NCAA Tournament.
Playing in his first NCAA Tournament game, the highly touted freshman went for 28 points on 9-of-18 shooting as No. 10 Oklahoma lost to No. 7 Rhode Island, 83-78 in overtime, in a first-round Midwest Region game at PPG Paints Arena. After shooting a perfect 4-for-4 in the first half, Young went 5-for-14 in the second and OT.
“It’s tough , you never want it to end,” Young said. “I’m proud of my team for even getting to that point. We fought hard to the end. That’s a good Rhode Island team we played today and they did a good job executing their stuff.”
Rams Senior guard E.C. Matthews hit two huge three-pointers in the overtime and finished with 16 points.
Daron “Fatts” Russell scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half and overtime and Jared Terrell scored 13 points. Cyril Langevine had 14 points and 9 rebounds, including six points in the OT, four off free throws.
“It’s about surviving and advancing and wow, what an exciting game to be a part of,” Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley said.
While Young will now presumably prepare for the NBA Draft — he is a projected Top 10 pick — the senior-laden Rams on Saturday will face the winner of Thursday’s second game between No. 2 Duke and No. 15 Iona. A time has not yet been announced for that game.
“Right now I’m not worried about that,” Young said of the NBA. “Right now my main focus is my teammates. Those are my brothers and that’s all I’m thinking bout right now.
“Later this week I’ll sit down with my family and we’ll discuss that. But right now that’s not my main focus. My focus is my teammates.”
He added: “That chapter is closed now. I gotta move on to whatever’s next for me. This is all a process and I’ve matured a lot.”
Rayford Young, Trae’s father, said he and the family will take a few days to process their next move.
“This is something we didn’t expect,” Rayford told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman. It happened 1,000 miles per hour. I’m so proud of him. We’ve got a decision in front of us now.”
“The kid has no weakness and he’s obviously going to have an amazing NBA career ahead of him,” Hurley said of Young. “It’s a pleasure to be on the court with a guy that good and compete against him.”
The win means Hurley will coach at least one more game at the Atlantic 10 school. He has been linked to the openings at UConn and Pittsburgh, but said here Wednesday he was not letting the talk distract him or his team. His parents, Chris Hurley and legendary former St. Anthony’s coach Bob Hurley, sat behind the Rams’ bench after making the trip from Jersey City.
Young and Oklahoma entered the tournament having lost eight of their last 10 games, and hadn’t won a road game in 2018.
They were criticized for making the Big Dance at all — especially since in-state rival Oklahoma State was left out.
But the Sooners answered the critics by taking a 35-31 lead on a Rhode Island team that won the Atlantic 10 regular-season title and lost in the conference tournament finals to Davidson. Young went 4-for-4 in the first half for 10 points.
“This is a new season,” Young said. “I mean, I count the regular season as last season. We’re not worried about it. Everybody is 0-0 now. Everybody in this field is capable of winning games. So, we have got to come in with the mindset of we’re going to compete hard on both ends for 40 minutes, and hopefully get back to the way we were to start the season, and if we do that, we’ll be okay.”
In the second half, Rhode Island took its first lead since 19-18 when Matthews and Russell hit back-to-back three-pointers to give the Rams a 55-50 lead with 8:40 left.
“Myself is confident,” Russell said of his huge performance down the stretch.
“I told him the only point guard I saw at Peach Jam that was better than him was Trae Young and he told me I was wrong about that,” Hurley said of Russell.
After missing his first five field-goal attempts in the second half, Young scored on a pair of layups to pull Oklahoma within 66-62.
After Young made a three-pointer to put Oklahoma back up 67-66, Matthews scored on a conventional three-point play to give Rhody a 69-67 lead.
Young hit two foul shots to tie the game at 69 with 14.5 seconds left.
Jeff Dowtin and Stan Robinson both had looks at a potential game-winner in regulation but the ball didn’t fall.
In the overtime, Matthews came up huge with two three-pointers, while Langevine went 4-for-4 from the foul line..
“We just had to stay calm and we made big shots,” Matthews said.
“They’re very guard-heavy,” Young said of the Rhode Island guards. “They have a lot of the good guards on their team. They know how to play, play well with each other, and I feel like in my eyes the guards run the NCAA Tournament. When you have good guard play, those are the teams that usually win, win down the stretch, too.”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.