For the greater part of the first 30 minutes of action Monday, Oklahoma freshman Trae Young looked like a mere mortal. As his team duked it out against the visiting Mountaineers of West Virginia, Young, the NCAA leader in scoring and assists, looked lackadaisical and lethargic as he -- along with his team -- struggled to keep pace with WVU.
But as has become routine for him, Young, even in rare form, came alive in crunch time. He scored 12 points in the final 11 minutes after a sluggish start, but it wasn't enough to bump OU past the Mountaineers in a 75-73 loss.
Below are three takeaways from the game that provides further clarity and separation in tier one of the Big 12.
1. Trae Young wasn't himself
Young's 32-point stat line isn't anything to scoff at. He produced much like he has all season. But just by feeling out his demeanor and energy level on TV, you could tell he simply wasn't himself for much of the night. That's because according to ESPN, Young was battling an undisclosed illness that zapped his energy level.
Before Young came alive in the final stretch, he had 20 points through 29 minutes of action, was sailing deep balls into thin air, and had a loose handle with the basketball. He finished with one assist -- which he got with 1:31 left in the game -- to six turnovers.
2. Oklahoma is slumping to the finish line
Oklahoma roared out to a 4-1 start in the Big 12, but the Sooners, much like the rest of the league, have found the conference to be a never-ending gauntlet since.
The loss on Monday, which completed a West Virginia season sweep of the Sooners, is their fifth in seven games and fourth in six conference battles. To make matters worse for OU, it now has two upcoming road tilts, first vs. Iowa State, then at Big 12-leading Texas Tech, before it returns for the Red River rivalry game against Texas in Norman.
Oklahoma is a 4 seed in Jerry Palm's latest Bracketology, but the Sooners' seed line projection is among the more volatile single-digit seeds. It has the capability to win out with the talent it boasts, but this recent slump would seem to indicate more struggles might be on the way.
All that to say that, regardless of the regular-season finish, OU's going to be one heck of a trendy pick in March Madness.
3. Big 12 title implications
Texas Tech and Kansas are co-leaders (7-3) in the conference after OSU handed the Jayhawks a surprising L on Saturday, and the victory pulled WVU (7-4) to within a half-game in the Big 12.
It's not a conference-altering victory per se for the Mountaineers, but it's a loss that puts OU way behind the eight ball. If the winner of the league finishes 12-6 as KenPom currently projects, the Sooners (6-5) need to be near-flawless in their final seven games.