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Trae Young only took 9 shots vs. Kansas and still dominated in huge Oklahoma win

Against the Jayhawks, the freshman sensation made an effort to change the way he plays.

NCAA Basketball: Kansas at Oklahoma Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Trae Young heard the criticism about his shot selection. He responded with his most efficient game of the season, leading Oklahoma to a huge 85-80 win over No. 5 Kansas in Norman on Tuesday night.

A game after taking 39 shots (and scoring 48 points) in an overtime loss to Oklahoma State, Young focused on getting his teammates involved early against Kansas. The star freshman still finished with 26 points and nine assists in the win, but his approach to the game was noticeably different.

The Young we saw against the Jayhawks was not the same player who leads college basketball with a usage rate of 40 percent. Instead, Young was restrained, measured, and still undeniably effective as the Sooners pulled out a late win.

Young only attempted nine shots all night

Trae Young didn’t even take a three until the 15:30 mark of the second half. His final shooting line stands in clear contrast to his last game: Young went 7-of-9 from the field, 2-of-3 from three, and 10-of-12 from the foul line.

Keep in mind that Young went 8-of-20 from three against Oklahoma State. The criticism of his performance in that game was mostly misplaced, as Young still played a brilliant and mostly efficient game against the Cowboys while scoring a career high. But it was clear his game plan was different vs. Kansas.

Instead of firing threes at will, Young looked for his teammates early and often. Here’s one of his nine assists:

Young’s teammates came to play vs. Kansas. Christian James (15 points) and Brady Manek (14 points) each hit big shots late to put the Sooners in front.

Whatever you think about Young’s shot selection, remember he also leads the country in assists. This is an unselfish player with preternatural vision even when he’s in attack mode.

Young’s restrained approach was intentional

ESPN’s Myron Medcalf tweeted this before the game:

I‘ve been with Oklahoma and Trae Young all week. They’re searching for a more balanced game against Kansas. Both players and coaches feel like they gave up easy baskets and failed to develop a rhythm on offense in these last two games. Lon Kruger wants a more efficient effort from his team tonight.

After the win, Young apologized to Oklahoma fans for how he was playing. He truly had nothing to apologize for, but his more measured approach worked against the Jayhawks.

Young entered the night averaging 20.6 field goal attempts per game. He had been taking nearly 11 shots from game from three. This was proof he can still dominate even when he’s not hunting his shot.

Young still hit big shots when it counted

You knew this was cash as soon as he pulled up:

The way Young was playing was the biggest reason for Oklahoma’s amazing turnaround this season. He combined sky-high usage with incredible efficiency in a way that was special.

It turns out that’s not the only way he can play, though. Kansas found that out on Tuesday.