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How Texas derailed Trae Young for a crucial Big 12 win

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Young struggles in Oklahoma's loss to Texas (0:43)

Trae Young goes 2-14 from 3-point range but finishes with 14 assists as Oklahoma falls to Texas 79-74. (0:43)

AUSTIN, Texas -- Trailing by four points with 92 seconds left, Trae Young drove to the basket and dished, only to see the ball deflected away in traffic and eventually turned over to Texas.

The next trip down the floor, Oklahoma's freshman sensation tried to split a double team only to lose control and turn it over again.

With the Sooners trailing by six with under a minute left, Young was again the aggressor -- this time launching from 30 feet out -- but again came up empty. The ball went the other way and Mohamed Bamba finished with a reverse jam on an alley-oop lob from Eric Davis Jr., and the 15,000-plus Longhorn fans on hand were celebrating a 79-74 signature win.

Thanks to an effective defensive effort -- and a little luck -- Texas scored a key résumé victory over Young and the No. 12 Sooners on Saturday at the Frank Erwin Center, to muddy up the Big 12 picture even more than it already was.

Young, who came into the game leading the nation in scoring and assists, had his worst 3-point shooting game of the season percentage-wise, hitting just two of 14 attempts from deep (14.2 percent). He wound up with 19 points and an impressive 14 assists, but his inability to find the bottom of the net consistently -- particularly in the second half -- doomed the Sooners on the road.

"I just don't think I got into a rhythm," Young said. "I don't know how to explain it. All my shots were either short or long."

Give Texas credit, too, for the way it attacked Young on Saturday.

Shaka Smart's plan was to "blitz" Young on pick-and-rolls at every turn. The Longhorns typically go under ball screens deep behind the 3-point line when opponents are out of scoring range, but when your scoring range is 30 feet, that's not really an option, so the Longhorns went over most of them.

Bamba, a future lottery pick and blocked shot aficionado with a 7-foot-9 wingspan, used his long arms to try to bother Young whenever he came out. Junior guard Kerwin Roach, who is the Longhorns' perimeter defensive ace, and freshman point guard Matt Coleman rotated duties on Young and at times double teamed. The goal was simple.

"Make him as inefficient as possible," Smart said. "Some of that was luck but some of that was hands."

Smart also had the team's managers install what Coleman dubbed "the Trae Young tape" in practice this week. It was basically an arc of masking tape that formed a second 3-point line nearly 30 feet from the basket -- or what Smart called "three big steps" from the official 3-point line -- so his players would know just how far out they had to defend.

Early on it seemed futile, because Young took advantage of Texas' aggression by finding players inside for easy layups and dunks. He racked up nine assists less than 16 minutes into the game, and Jamuni McNeace (16 points) benefited from several of them.

In the second half, the Longhorns shored things up in the paint, and while Young stayed aggressive, he wasn't able to string together an extended stretch of good shooting. Young finished just 1-of-11 on contested 3-point attempts, according to ESPN Stats & Information tracking.

"They crowded Trae when he came off ball screens a little more in the second half," Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. "They have good length and they do a good job with it."

Said Smart: "We tried to get more hands on the ball. We emphasized that. ... Mostly it's just want-to."

Young wasn't the only one who struggled from deep; the Sooners were just 3-for-22 overall from 3-point land. The team shot 15.4 percent outside of the paint, the fifth time they've shot worse than 30 percent from that range (all road losses).

And while they put out stellar defensive performances, Coleman (22 points) and Roach (19 points) were superb on the offensive end, too. Coleman scored 17 of his points in the second half, and both guards were productive during a key second-half stretch when they turned a 9-point deficit to a 4-point lead with 3:41 left.

Instead of the Sooners (16-6, 6-4 Big 12) sitting in a three-way tie atop the conference -- which would have been the case with a win Saturday -- they're now tied for third with West Virginia, whom they host on Monday. Texas (15-8, 5-5), which lost a heartbreaker in overtime at Texas Tech on Wednesday, has won three of its past four and is beginning to feel like more a factor in the league.

"This would have been even better if we had won Wednesday," Coleman said. "But at the end of the day, this is another good win to put us into the Big 12 conversation. The league is wide open."