Rayford Young still has a video cassette and DVD copy of the moment.
On Feb. 13, 1999, Young scored 41 points — including 32 in the final nine minutes — as Texas Tech defeated then No. 24-ranked Kansas in Lubbock.
But in the background, if you look closely, another small piece to Young’s legacy was also in attendance among the throng of Red Raiders fans inside Lubbock Municipal Coliseum.
“It’s a memorable game for me because you can see my girlfriend, now wife, Candice, holding Trae in her arms,” Rayford Young said of his son, Trae, a current Oklahoma freshman guard who leads the country in scoring average and assists. “He was about six to eight months old at that time and had already been around basketball.”
Once again, father and son will be able to sit inside a venue — this time United Supermarkets Arena — but have opposite perspectives of the game when No. 7 Texas Tech hosts the No. 23-ranked Sooners at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
“He knows I’ll be there, I’ve never missed a game since he was in the fourth grade,” said Rayford Young, who noted the 19-year-old was a stable at shootarounds during his junior and senior years at Texas Tech. “I try to watch him during warmups. But, if I get there a little later, we always make sure to make eye contact right before tipoff. He knows I’m his biggest fan.”
Trae is the third male member of his family to carry to the moniker.
“My dad was the first, and I was the second,” Rayford Young said. “And his full name is Rayford Trae Young. It’s a cool deal to me, to honor the name.”
It’s also a bit of happenstance since Trae Young is known for draining 3-pointers, which is known by another word: trey, that sounds exactly like his given name. Although, if you ask his father, Trae Young’s success on the basketball court is no shock.
“There were days we’d be up and 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning shooting,” Rayford Young said. “Then, after school, we’d be doing the same thing around 7 or 8 o’ clock. There were many years spent doing that, honing his craft.
“He was definitely born around basketball and loves the game. And it shows.”
Trae Young has impressed the entire nation in his first season in Norman. The 6-foot-2 combo guard has averaged 29.5 points and 9.5 assists per game, which both lead the country, this season.
In addition, Young has helped resurrect a Sooners program which finished with an 11-20 overall and 5-13 mark in Big 12 play last season. With Young, Oklahoma has amassed a record of 16-8 overall and 6-6 in the conference.
But, the Sooners have hit a rough patch after dropping their last three games. More so, Oklahoma is looking to earn its first road win since Dec. 30. Young is the likely player to be tasked with snapping both droughts in what should be another emotional game for him and his father.
“I’m going to expect it to be very loud, and I’m used to it,” Rayford Young said. “Every place I’ve gone has been close to sold out because they want to see him play and cheer against him.
“I think it’s all fun. And I want to see how creative the fans are and how loud they’re going to get.”
Who to cheer for?
When it comes to his allegiance, Rayford Young kept his answer simple.
“I always try to wear a neutral color,” he said, chuckling. “It’s even hard at the house because we had two kids born in Lubbock and two born in Norman. But, I can tell you this, I’ll always be a Red Raider in and out and pull for Tech until they play OU. Gotta cheer for my son. I’m just hoping for a good game with no injuries.”
Rayford, who works in medical sales in Oklahoma, jokes that his family is literally split when it comes to its rooting interests.
Caitlyn (17) and Trae (19) were born in Lubbock, while Cameryn (15), Timothy (7) were born Norman. All were down the street from Texas Tech and Oklahoma University.
The entire clan, including Candice, will trek to Lubbock.
“It’s crazy when you think about it,” Rayford Young said about his family’s college allegiance split. “For those that don’t know, we’re just a close-knit, tight family. But we’re all family and cheer for each other.”
From a defensive perspective, Texas Tech will certainly look to slow down Trae Young’s offensive production.
The Red Raiders, who’s scoring defense is currently ranked first in the Big 12 and fifth in the country, limited Young to five points in the first half of the earlier season meeting which saw Oklahoma earn the win.
“We just tried to make it tough in anyway possible, and not let him catch the ball,” Texas Tech senior guard Keenan Evans said of what the then No. 8 Red Raiders did to limit Young’s production in the loss. “Make him, just, uncomfortable. Just make his take tough shots. And, in the second half, we kind of lost focus, lost track of where he was and wasn’t disciplined to keep our hands up — show our hands. We put him on the free-throw line and it kind of let him get going.”
In the second half, The Sooner guard exploded for 22 points, including four 3-pointers, to aid then No. 9 Oklahoma to a 75-65 home victory.
“Just to settle down in this game,” Young said after scoring 27 points and nine assists in the win. “I had a lot of emotions, for me. And I played like a freshman in the first half. I just let that get to me in the first half. I just settled down in the second half. … I focused on my shot and settled down.”
The Red Raiders are hoping to reverse that trend when they meet for a second time Tuesday.
“In the first game, Trae still got his (points),” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said Monday. “I thought in the first half, we were a little bit more focused. We made it tough on him. We did a good job not fouling him around the basket. The second half, things got away from us. Give him the credit. … Once he sees the ball go in, the basket just gets huge for him. He’s such a great offensive player.”
But, no matter the outcome, Rayford Young admits he’s still going to keep tabs on Texas Tech as it continues to rise as a basketball program in the national eye. He saw and spoke first-hand to Texas Tech coach Chris Beard, who rolled out the red carpet as he recruited Trae Young as a high school senior.
“Everything Chris said when we visited is true: he told us they were going to win, play the right way by passing the ball and sharing the scoring,” Rayford Young recalled. “And they’re going to have fun. You can see that the guys love each other.
“I mean, it would have been a dream come true because I wanted my son to go to Texas Tech. But it just wasn’t in the cards, he wanted to stay close to home and family. But the thing I respect is Chris continues to send me text messages and checks in. That’s cool.”
As for the Red Raiders, Rayford Young feels like the program will keep trending upward with Beard at the helm.
“I feel like he’s going to be there for a long time,” Rayford Young said. “In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked if he brings the first national title to Texas Tech.”