TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama coach Avery Johnson said he’ll throw three or four different defensive looks at an opposing team during a typical game.
Oklahoma — and its freshman sensation Trae Young — got seven of them.
Not all of them worked, but most of them did. The result was one of Young’s worst offensive games of the year and an 80-73 upset victory for the Crimson Tide over No. 12 Oklahoma on Saturday in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
Alabama’s own star freshman, Collin Sexton, scored 18 points. The 6-foot-3 guard was part of the waves of Crimson Tide defense that held Young to just 17 points on 6 of 17 shooting from the field.
It was only the second time this season Young — who came into the game leading the nation with more than 30 points per game — was held to fewer than 20 points.
The Sexton-Young showdown drew a packed crowd of more than 15,000 to Coleman Coliseum — not to mention more than a handful of NBA scouts. Johnson said he was pleased Sexton was able to focus, play well and not get distracted by the hype.
“I just told him to look at the clock every 10 minutes and see if Alabama is winning,” Johnson said. “If Alabama is winning, then you’re being successful. If we’re not winning, then you’re not being successful.
“It’s that simple. That took all the pressure away.”
Another Alabama freshman, Herbert Jones, added 14 points. Donta Hall had nine points, seven rebounds and eight blocked shots. The Crimson Tide (14-7) shot 55.6 percent from the field.
Oklahoma (15-5) trailed by six at halftime but rallied to take a 60-55 lead with 11 minutes remaining. Alabama responded with the next 13 points for a 68-60 advantage it wouldn’t relinquish.
“We played a little more of a mature basketball game today,” Johnson said. “We were focused for a longer period of time.”
The Sexton-Young showdown took a little while to develop, though there were some good moments late in the first half.
Young needed more than 11 minutes to get free for his first basket on a 10-foot floater in the lane, but Sexton responded almost immediately with a 3-pointer. A few minutes later, Sexton’s dunk in transition was followed by a Young 3-pointer 15 seconds later.
But Young couldn’t find much room to operate. He got hot briefly during the second half, knocking down two quick 3-pointers, but was fairly quiet by his lofty standards. He had eight assists and five turnovers.
“This wasn’t anything new,” Young said. “I’ve seen every type of defense. They just did a lot of different defenses throughout the game and threw different things at me. I’ve got to continue to make the right play and that’s my main focus.”
Young’s 17 points were his fewest since scoring 15 points in the season opener against Omaha.
“It’s just like any other battle against anybody else,” Sexton said. “We just go out there and play hard. It’s mental and physical because you’ve got to think and fight through screens.”
Khadeem Lattin led the Sooners with 18 points while Rashard Odomes added 15.
“The loose balls, the physical parts of the game, (Alabama) clearly won those battles,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “We’ve got to get tougher. We’ve got to fight harder.”
Oklahoma: The Sooners were coming off a huge win against Kansas but couldn’t keep the momentum against Alabama’s stingy defense. Young struggled to find open looks all afternoon, and the rest of Oklahoma’s offense couldn’t make up the difference.
Alabama: It’s a really nice win for the Crimson Tide, which were reeling after a 12-point road loss to Ole Miss earlier this week. Sexton had a solid game for the Tide and the overall defense was impressive.
Oklahoma: It’s hard to know what to make of the Sooners, but the trend is downward overall. They’ve lost four of seven since Jan. 6.
Alabama: Saturday’s big win will draw the eye of some voters, but Alabama remains inconsistent. There are two more big opportunities ahead against Missouri and Florida.
Oklahoma returns home to face Baylor on Tuesday night.
Alabama hosts Missouri on Wednesday night.
(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)