NORMAN, Okla. -- The No. 3 Oklahoma women’s basketball team (3-0) concludes its Pacific Coast road trip with a game against No. 20/21 UCLA (2-1) at historic Pauley Pavilion on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Sooners are in the midst of a 17-game regular season winning streak. Fans can follow the action on radio station KOKC (1520 AM) or through live stats on UCLABruins.com.
The tilt on Tuesday is a rematch of the Sooners 83-78 win over the Bruins during the pre-conference portion of last season. In that contest, Courtney Paris had 24 points and 22 rebounds, while Kendra Moore exploded for 13 points and eight assists. UCLA was led by Nikki Blue, who almost single-handedly kept UCLA in the game with 23 points.
On Tuesday, OU and UCLA will meet for the third time. The two previous games have been split between the teams. The Sooners have just a 4-14 record against the Pac 10 all-time.
The Bruins have been led by duo of forward Lindsey Pluimer and guard Noelle Quinn in the early going. The two are combining for 35 points a game and have taken 46 percent of UCLA’s shots. Forward Amanda Livingston is also scoring 10 points per game. UCLA has defeated Big West Conference members UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside and suffered its only loss at Tennessee last week.
OU is coming off five days in Hawaii and will have to battle travel weariness in Tuesday’s game. The Sooners are getting double figure points from Courtney Paris (21.7), Chelsi Welch (15), Ashley Paris (14.7) and Amanda Thompson (10.3) and are yet to allow a team to shot over 40 percent from the field.
OU will return to regional action when it travel to Lamar on Wednesday, Nov. 29.
Setting The Scene
Date: Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2006
Location: Los Angeles, Calif.
Tipoff: 7 p.m. Pacific
Venue: Pauley Pavilion
Live Stats: www.uclabruins.com
Radio: KOKC (1520 AM) and Yahoo! Radio
Radio Talent: Chuck Kelly (Play-by-Play) & Tara DeGiusti
Tickets: (310) 825-2946
Player To Watch
Sophomore forward Ashley Paris has moved into the starting lineup thanks to three consistent efforts this season. The sophomore forward is averaging 14.7 points and 6.7 rebounds, both of which are third on the team. Her scoring average through three games is nearly nine point better than last season (5.9). Perhaps her largest area of improvement is interior passing, both dishing and receiving.
UCLA is off to a 2-1 start after going 21-11 last season and reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Bruins are led by head coach Kathy Olivier, who owns 204-176 (.536) record in 14 seasons in Westwood.
UCLA is a much different team from the squad that played in Norman last season. The Bruins lost six letterwinners, inlcuding current WNBA players Lisa Willis and Nikki Blue. The loss of Willis and Blue, both All-Pac First Team performers, accounted for 30 points and 10 assists per game.
The Bruins did retain All-Pac 10 honoree and All-America candidate Noel Quinn. Quinn is averaging 17.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Last season Quinn had 18 points, eight rebounds and three steals in UCLA’s loss to Oklahoma. Quinn is second on the team in scoring to junior forward Lindsey Plumier, who is scoring 18 per game. Plumier struggled in Norman last season, scoring seven points on 2-9 shooting.
UCLA has defeated UC Santa Barbara (87-62) and UC Riverside (70-60) and dropped its only road contest to No. 5/4 Tennessee (83-60). Plumier and Quinn combined for 37 points and 11 turnovers in the loss to the Lady Vols. On the season, that duo has accounted for 46 percent of UCLA’s field goal attempts.
Tuesday night’s game will mark the third meeting in the all-time series. OU won 83-78 at the Lloyd Noble Center last season The only other meeting came in 1982 in Los Angeles. The Bruins won that meeting by a score of 82-63.
The Triangle Offense
The players and staff refer to it as the corner and Coach Coale likes to call it, “motion skewed,” but in reality it is the Triangle Offense that Phil Jackson and mastermind Tex Winters made famous with the Chicago Bulls during their dynasty years.
OU is not expected to struggle offensively this season, but the fact that the Sooners are averaging 92 points a game speaks volumes to their efficiency. The offense was new to everyone on the team at the start of camp, which meant no upperclassmen teaching the five freshmen the intricacies of the scheme.
The recruting services said Amanda Thompson, “Had no apparent weakness.” Those all-around skills have been on display this season. Thompson ranks in the top-6 in five different categories among Big 12 freshmen. Below are the details:
Category - Rank (Stat)
Assists - 3 (3.33)
Rebounds - 2T (7.0)
Points - 4 (10.3)
Steals - 4 (1.33)
Blocks - 6 (0.67)
OU has not allowed a team to shoot over 40 percent from the field this season. The top mark was turned in by Eastern Kentucky, which shot 37 percent from the field.
OU is averaging 84 points and 20.7 assists per game in the early going. Both numbers are up from last season when OU averaged 76.3 points and 16.8 assists.
OU enters the contest with UCLA having won 17 straight regular season games and nine straight games away from Norman.
Leah Rush has 13 rebounds this season, nine of those have come on the offensive glass. Last season 38 (71-of-189) of her boards came on the offensive glass.
OU will play seven of its 11 non-conference games away from Norman and the Lloyd Noble Center this season. It is nothing new for Sherri Coale’s program, which has played 62 (50-81) percent of its preconference game outside the Lloyd Noble Center since 2000-01.
Oklahoma’s attendance of 10,448 vs. DePaul was the largest crowd in the Big 12 over the opening weekend of the season. To this point only Texas Tech (10,992 vs. Texas State) has had a larger crowd.
The Double-Double Record
Courtney Paris broke the OU career record for double-doubles with the 34th of her career against DePaul in the season opener. Paris surpassed Caton Hill (2000-04), who had 33. It took Paris 37 games to reach 34, while it took Hill 120 games to collect her 33 double-doubles. Currently she has 36 double-doubles in 39 career games.
The Double-Double Streak
Courtney Paris, who lead the NCAA with 33 double-doubles last season, has recorded a double-double in 31 straight games. The streak began against UCLA on Dec. 5, 2005.
The Half Double-Double
Courtney Paris recorded a double-double in a single half on 10 occasions (4 first half, 6 second half) last season, including OU’s second round NCAA game against BYU when she had 11 points and 10 boards at halftime.
Her three other first half double-dips came against Texas (second meeting), UCLA and SMU. Her second half double-doubles were against New Mexico (twice), Illinois, Michigan State, Texas (first meeting) and Baylor (second meeting). As usual, Paris shined in the brightest spotlight with five of these double-doubles coming against ranked teams.
The Experience Factor
A couple notes on the level of experience OU has on its roster.
Between eight players, including six seniors, OU has 361 career starts. Sophomore Carolyn Winchester is the only upperclassman that has never started a game for OU.
Britney Brown had a streak of 25 consecutive starts snapped on opening night. She returned to the starting lineup against Hawaii (N18).
Since earning her first start at Texas A&M during her freshman season Leah Rush has started 89 straight games.
It’s A Twin Thing
Ashley and Courtney Paris have a sense for each other on the court that can only come from years of playing together. That innate sense is strengthened by the fact that they are identical twins. The two posts are proficient at dishing the ball off to each other at angles and times unnoticed by most players. So far this season they have connected on sister-to-sister assists eight times. Six of those have been Courtney to Ashley. The assists account for 60 (6-10) percent of Courtney’s total and 33 percent of Ashley’s total (2-6).
Oklahoma freshman Nyeshia has become a fan favorite almost as quickly as she sprints down the court on a fast break. The ultra-athletic forward shined during the exhibition season and flashed an all-around game that surprised even the OU coaching staff.
Stevenson posted averages of 13 points and 5.5 rebounds in the exhibition season. Against DePaul she had nine points, three rebounds and no turnovers in 16 minutes. Since then her averages have settled in at 4.7 points and 1.7 rebounds.
The 5-9 rookie, who primarily played in the post as a prepster, learned quickly that she can use her unique blend of speed and length to dribble and drive past most defenders. From there she expanded her arsenal and has nailed a handful of outside shots.
OU struggled with turnovers last season and appears to have improved in that area in the early going. The Sooners are second in the Big 12 with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.22. Last season OU was eighth in the Big 12 with a ratio of 0.89. The Sooners have improved their assist total from 16.8 per game in 2005-06 to 20.7 through three games in 2006-07. OU averaged 17.9 turnovers per game last season and has made a moderate improvement to 17 per game this year.
Sophomore Courtney Paris, who had 99 turnovers last season, has just two this season and leads the Big 12 Conference with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 5.0. The All-American made turnovers a focal point this off-season and opened the year without committing a turnover in the first two games. Senior point guard Britney Brown is sixth in the Big 12 with a ratio of 1.88.
Owning The Boards
For the second consecutive season, OU is dominating the boards. Last year OU led the Big 12 and ranked second nationally with a rebounding margin of +10.7. This year, OU has outrebounded opponents by a minimum of 18 in each game and owns a combined rebounding margin of +20.3, which is again tops in the Big 12. The Sooners lead the Big 12 in overall rebounding (53.0) and offensive rebounds (23.0 per game) while raking third in defensive boards (30.0). Last season, OU collected 44.8 rebounds per game.
Glass cleaner Courtney Paris, who set the NCAA single season record for rebounds with 539 last season, is averaging 14 boards. Last season she averaged 15 per game. Amanda Thompson is pulling down seven boards per game and Ashley Paris is right behind at 6.7.
The Sooners have collected 50 rebounds in two of three games with a season high of 56 against DePaul.