Late-season collapse leaves Oklahoma, Trae Young sweating out NCAA berth

Oklahoma State knocks out Oklahoma of Big 12 tourney (0:37)

The Cowboys stop Trae Young and defeat the Sooners 71-60 to advance to the second round of the Big 12 tournament. (0:37)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- While attempting to explain yet another Oklahoma loss, Trae Young was interrupted. The echoes of a boisterous chant from Oklahoma State's celebrating locker room cascaded through the halls of the Sprint Center before briefly overtaking Young's news conference.

It was a surreal moment in a surreal season for the Sooners and their star freshman point guard.

A season, and possibly a college career, that could effectively be over.

Just two months ago, Young seemed to be a lock for national player of the year while earning comparisons to Stephen Curry and drawing accolades from LeBron James. It also seemed as if the nation's leader in points and assists was primed to net the Sooners their first No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament in 15 years before taking his talents to the NBA.

But after Wednesday's 71-60 loss to Oklahoma State in the opener of the Big 12 Tournament -- Oklahoma's 11th defeat in 15 games and eighth in its past 10 -- the Sooners are now left sweating until Sunday to see if they'll be invited to the tournament at all.

"I didn't expect to be in this position, by any means," Young said. "I obviously expected us to keep winning, hopefully to have a chance to get a 1-seed, 2-seed, up in that range.

"I think we have a good shot of getting in just because of our resume and all that, but we'll have to see. Hopefully, we'll get in."

Oklahoma's February-March free fall, which took them from the talk of college basketball with its most exciting player to a tumbling team just hoping to slip into the tournament, has been among the biggest collapses in the game's recent history.

Even so, the Sooners still had a prime opportunity against their Bedlam rival to eliminate any possibility of squarely being on the tournament bubble while regaining momentum before The Dance.

Instead, Oklahoma State completely dominated the Sooners. Save for a couple of fleeting moments, Young was mostly contained yet again.

From the opening tip, the Cowboys never trailed. They also outhustled and outmuscled the Sooners while outrebounding them 53-27. As a result, Oklahoma State scored 19 second-chance points; Oklahoma managed just one basket off a rebound.

"We try to be the hardest-playing team," said Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton. "I think we accomplished that."

The Cowboys also accomplished their other primary objective in slowing Young.

With his teammates struggling to get going offensively -- as they had the past two months -- Young came out simply trying to shoot the Sooners to victory from distance. He did nail five 3-pointers, but he also went just 7-of-21 from the field.

"He's a terrific player who will continue to have a great basketball career," Boynton said. "You just try to make him as inefficient as possible. I think we accomplished that."

Though Young still had his moments, he was never able to push the Sooners over the top.

During the most critical sequence of the night, Young keyed a 14-2 run, trimming Oklahoma State's lead to just four midway through the second half. But after a steal, Young tried to lob an alley-oop ahead to teammate Brady Manek. Instead, Oklahoma State center Mitchell Solomon swatted the pass away, leading to a Cowboys layup at the other end.

The Sooners never got any closer the rest of the way.

"I saw [Solomon] step up, so I tried to throw a lob," Young said. "I don't know if there was contact. That's been working all year."

Little, however, has been working for the Sooners lately.

As of Wednesday night, ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi still believed that Oklahoma would get in on Sunday. But that's no longer a sure thing, especially with a fellow bubble team like Oklahoma State surging into March. Even if the Sooners do still get into the tournament, they might have to earn their way into the field of 64 via a play-in game in Dayton, Ohio.

"I think our resume speaks for itself -- I think we had the toughest schedule in America. ... And then we played in the toughest conference in America," said Young, rattling off Oklahoma's impressive nonconference victories, which now seem a lifetime ago. "But instead of taking care of business, we left it in [the committee's] hands."

A surreal realization for Young and the Sooners, whose once promising season is now on the cusp of calamity.