NORMAN -- For the second time in Oklahoma history, two teams ranked in the top-10 will meet at the Lloyd Noble Center when the No. 3 Oklahoma women’s basketball team (9-0) hosts No. 8 Ohio State (9-1) at 6 p.m. Central on Wednesday. The game is being broadcast to a national audience by ESPN2, who has employed the on air team of Pam Ward (play-by-play) and Kara Lawson (color commentary). A radio broadcast of the game can be found on KOKC 1520 AM, the Sooner Sports Radio Network and Yahoo! Radio.
The game has officially sold out. Restricted admission tickets will be sold 90 minutes prior to tip off. Restricted admission tickets cost $8 for adults and children. Those that purchase restricted admission tickets are guaranteed entrance, but not a seat. The first 500 fans in attendance will receive a free OU Christmas stocking. The halftime performance will be provided by Quick Change, which won the NBC show America’s Got Talent.
The undefeated Sooners enter the marquee non-conference game in the midst of a record defensive stretch. The Sooners have held all nine straight opponents below 40 percent shooting and the last three teams under 30 percent shooting. It marks the first time in 33 years of Sooner basketball that three straight opponents have failed to eclipse 30 percent shooting.
The Sooner’s go-to-offensive player, Courtney Paris, comes in with a hot hand. The Sooner All-American has made 88 percent (21-24) percent of her shots in the last two games, when she has averaged 22 points. Senior Leah Rush is on an offensive roll as well, having scored in double figures in six straight games and knocking down 75 (12-15) percent of her 3’s during that time.
Ohio State had won 23 regular straight season games before dropping a 75-51 decision to LSU in Baton Rouge on Dec. 10. Since then OSU has posted decisive wins over Howard and Alabama A&M. The Buckeyes are led by 6-5 center Jessica Davenport, who is averaging 19.6 points and 9.7 rebounds and is in an elite class of center’s along with the Sooners’ Paris.
After the OSU game, the Sooners will take a Christmas break before facing New Mexico at OKC’s Cox Center on Dec. 30.
Setting The Scene
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2006
Tipoff: 6 p.m. Central
Venue: Lloyd Noble Center
TV Talent: Pam Ward & Kara Lawson
Radio: KOKC (1520 AM), SoonerSports Radio Network and Yahoo! Radio
Radio Broadcast Info
Radio Talent: Brian Brinkley & Tara DeGiusti
Tickets: Sold Out. Restricted admission ($8) sold when doors open
Promotions: OU Christmas stockings to first 500 fans.
Halftime performance by Quick Change.
Player To Watch
The entire nation will be focused on the post on Wednesday night when superstars Courtney Paris and Jessica Davenport square off on national TV. Paris, a consensus first team All-American last season, has collected double-doubles in 37 straight games and will have a hefty challenge at the rim and on the boards against the Buckeyes. The Sooner comes in with a hot hand, having made 88 (21-24) percent of her shot attempts in the last two games.
Previewing Ohio State
No. 8 Ohio State is off to a 9-1 start with impressive wins over Washington, USC, Boston College and Army. The Buckeyes lone loss came at LSU by a final margin of 75-51.
The Buckeyes are coached by Jim Foster, who owns a career record of 615-254 in stops at OSU, Vanderbilt and St. Joseph’s (Pa.). Foster led the Buckeyes to a Big 10 Championship and No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament last season. The Buckeyes were upset by Boston College in the second round of the tourney.
OU’s Courtney Paris was consensus first team All-America selection last season. The player she replaced on those first teams is Ohio State center Jessica Davenport. Davenport, who has been named the Big 10 Player of the Year the last two seasons, is averaging 19.6 points and 9.7 rebounds. The 6-5 lefty might be the longest athlete in women’s basketball. She is proficient shooting with both hands after spending her summer with the USA National Team.
In the first meeting between the programs last January, Paris held an advantage in points (23 to 15) and rebounds (14 to 3) but Davenport got the last laugh by hitting the game winning turn-around jumper with 3.4 seconds left.
Fellow Buckeye senior Brandie Hoskins is averaging 16.2 points and shooting 41 percent from 3-point range. Last year, Hoskins had 16 points, all in the second half. Junior guard Marscilla Packer, a summer teammate of Paris on the USA U20 World Championship Team, is averaging 11.3 points and is connecting on 41 percent of her 3-point attempts. One wild card for the Buckeyes is sophomore-transfer Ashley Trebilcock. Trebilcock left UCLA as a freshman and became eligible at for the Buckeyes at the end of the fall semester. She has played in three games and is averaging 7 points and is hitting 63 percent of her three-point attempts.
The Buckeyes are shooting 53 percent from the field (second in NCAA), 40 percent from 3-point range (10th) and 67 percent at the free throw line. They are averaging 79.2 points and 20 assists.
Defensively, OSU is holding opponents to 37 percent shooting and forcing nearly 20 turnovers per game, including 9. 5 steals. Additionally, OSU is carrying a 9.2 advantage on the boards.
Revisiting The Last Meeting | Box Score
Britney Brown posted perhaps her best game to that point in her career with nine points, six assists and three steals in 37 minutes.
Oklahoma shot 54.8 (17-31) percent from the field in the first half, despite missing all six of its 3-point attempts.
Erin Higgins, OU’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made, was limited to one long range attempt until the final four minutes when she hit a pair, including one with 21 seconds left to tie the game.
Chelsi Welch had 13 points to finish off a four game stretch in which she was averaging 16.5 points.
Three of OU’s five losses in 2005-06 came to the Big 10. OU was 1-3 against the Big 10 with losses to Ohio State, Michigan State and Illinois. OU’s lone win came over Iowa.
OU is 5-2 when ranked in the top-10 and facing another team ranked in the top-10. The most recent top-10 match up was between No. 9 OU and No. 10 Baylor in the 2006 Big 12 Championship Game.
OU is 1-0 in top-10 match ups at the Lloyd Noble Center. The lone game occurred on Feb. 5, 2002 between No. 4 OU defeated No. 10 Baylor. The Sooners won 69-60.
OU is 43-58 (19-20 at home) all-time against ranked opponents. This season it is 2-0, last season the Sooners were 7-4.
OU is 39-29 (17-8 at home) when it is ranked and facing a ranked team. It is also 11-1 when ranked higher, with the only loss coming on Jan. 24, 2004 to No. 19 Baylor. OU was ranked No. 15 at the time.
OU is averaging 83.1 points and 20.2 assists. Both numbers are up from last season when OU averaged 76.3 points and 16.8 assists.
Seeking 1,000 Point Club Membership
Three current Sooners are hoping to join Leah Rush in the OU 1,000 point club. Rush reached the career milestone against Baylor on Feb. 12, 2006. She should have company from Courtney Paris and Chelsi Welch as early as the next game and from Erin Higgins before the end of the season. Below is a chart on the chase for 1,000:
Paris Approaching Elite Status
Courtney Paris needs 19 points to reach 1,000 career points. She could reach the milestone against Ohio State, which would place her among the 16 fastest players to 1,000 points in NCAA history. Below is where she would stack up if she makes it in career game No. 46 (Ohio State):
Historic Defensive Stretch
The OU coaching staff spent the majority of the preseason preaching defensive improvement. It appears the message was conveyed.
OU is in the midst of two record defensive streaks. OU has held all nine opponents below 40 percent shooting this season. The previous record for consecutive opponents held below 40 percent was seven and set in 1984-85.
In the last three games, OU’s opponents have all shot below 30 percent. That is another record streak. OU had held two straight opponent below 30 percent on seven previous occasions in 33 seasons of Sooner basketball.
OU leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense at .310. The highest shooting percentage posted against the Sooners this season was .387 by UCLA. The low mark was a .224 by Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Northern Colorado. Over the last five games, OU has limited opponents to 27 (77-286) percent shooting from the field and 26 (20-77) percent from 3-point range. Last season 24 of 36 opponents failed to reach the 40 percent mark against OU.
The Winning Streaks
OU has won 23 straight regular season games, which is the longest active streak in Division I, dating back to Jan. 14, 2006. The streak is the second longest in Big 12 history. The record resides in Norman and is a 25-gamer by Oklahoma (January 2001-December 2001). Ironically, OU’s last regular season loss came at Ohio State on Jan. 9, 2006.
OU has won 13 straight games away from Norman which is three shy of tying the Big 12 record of 16. The streak includes true road games and games at neutral sites. OU set that mark with 16 straight wins from December 2000 to December 2001.
OU has won 12 straight true road games, which is a Big 12 record. The previous record was 11 games and was set by OU from December 2000 to December 2001.
OU has won 11 straight home games dating back to an 80-60 loss to Michigan State on Dec. 21, 2005. The OU record for consecutive home court victories is 26, set from February 1984 to February 1986.
Recap - Northern Colorado
(AP) - Courtney Paris had 20 points and 13 rebounds - her 37th straight double-double - and No. 3 Oklahoma set a school record for defensive prowess in an 82-36 victory over Northern Colorado on Sunday.
The Sooners extended their regular-season winning streak to 23 games, the longest in NCAA Division I and two games shy of the Big 12 Conference record. No. 8 Ohio State, which will visit Oklahoma on Wednesday, had held that distinction until its loss last Sunday to LSU. The Buckeyes are the last team to beat Oklahoma during the regular season - 75-71 on Jan. 9.
Oklahoma (9-0) held Northern Colorado (2-8) of the Big Sky Conference to 22 percent shooting. The Bears, who made 13 of 58 shots, became the third straight Oklahoma opponent to shoot below 30 percent, joining South Carolina (29 percent) and Arkansas-Pine Bluff (22 percent).
It’s the first time in Oklahoma’s 33 seasons of women’s basketball that the Sooners have held three straight opponents below 30 percent shooting.
Northern Colorado’s 36-point total was the lowest allowed by the Sooners since a 105-35 win over Prairie View A&M in December 1991 and matched the fifth-lowest total in Oklahoma history.
Unlike their last game, a 45-point romp over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the Sooners started quickly against Northern Colorado, scoring the first 11 points and leading 20-2 after less than 9 1/2 minutes and 42-13 at halftime.
The Bears went scoreless on their first 10 possessions, missing their first nine shots, before Nicole Ford put them on the board about seven minutes into the game. Northern Colorado shot 18 percent in the half.
Oklahoma shot 59 percent before halftime. Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale went deep into her bench, with 11 players seeing action in the first half, but that didn’t keep the Sooners from building their lead, which peaked at 49 points with 8:33 left.
Oklahoma finished with a 53-30 rebounding edge, recorded assists on 25 of its 34 baskets, committed a season-low eight turnovers and shot 51.5 percent from the field.
∙ OU committed a season low eight turnovers. The team’s previous best was 11 against Lamar on Nov. 29.
∙ The 46-point margin of victory was the Sooners’ best of the season, bettering by one point the margin from OU’s previous game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
∙ Erin Higgins (11 pts.) scored in double digits for the first time this season. Higgins also tied her season high with three made 3-pointers.
∙ Britney Brown set a team season high with four steals.
∙ Freshman Amanda Thompson set a career high with 12 points and tied a high with nine rebounds.
∙ Leah Rush has made 12 of her last 16 3-pointers (75 percent) dating back to the UCLA game.
∙ With 11 points, Rush scored in double figures for the sixth straight game. Rush was OU’s second leading scorer in 2005-06, yet her longest streak of the season was four games. As a sophomore, Rush scored in double figures in 15 straight.
∙ Courtney Paris (20 points and 13 rebounds) extended her double-double streak to 37.
Paris & Putbacks
24 (46-193) percent of Courtney Paris’ points this season have come after she pulled down an offensive rebound. Of that total, 20 have come after her own miss, 22 have come after her teammates’ misses and four have come at the free throw line after being fouled after an offensive board.
Paris At The Charity Stripe
Courtney Paris has made 72 (13-18) percent of her free throws in the last four games. She shot 55 percent from the charity stripe in the first five games of the season. Her yearly percentage for 2006-07 is 61.7 and her career mark is 50.2.
The Double-Double Streak
Courtney Paris has recorded a double-double in 37 straight games. The streak began against UCLA on Dec. 5, 2005. The streak will be 380 days old when OU takes the court next.
The Half Double-Double
Courtney Paris has recorded a double-double in a single half on 12 occasions (5 first half, 7 second half). She has achieved the mark against UCLA (second half) and Tulsa (first half) this season.
Last year her four first half double-dips came against BYU, 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 shines in the brightest spotlight with six of these double-doubles coming against ranked teams.
Pris Sets Pace to 900
Courtney Paris became the fastest player in OU and Big 12 history to reach 900 career points when she reached the milestone in her 42nd career game against Tulsa. Paris topped the 52-game pace former Sooner Molly McGuire (1980-83) needed to establish the mark.
What Brown Can Do For OU
Britney Brown has put together an impressive run over the last five games. Including a career high 10 assist effort against South Carolina, Brown has posted an assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.3 (46-to-6) over the last five games.
On the season she is second in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio with a 2.76 mark. She is also fourth in the Big 12 in assists per game at 5.2.
Welch Off To Strong Start
Chelsi Welch is off to a fast start to her senior season. The Plainview, Texas native is 11 points shy of 1,000 career points. She could reach that number in the next game against Ohio State.
The 5-10 guard has scored in double-figures in five of nine games this season, while tallying eight points in three others. She posted a season high 23 points in the season opener against DePaul. Last season, Welch only scored in double-figures on four occasions during the non-conference schedule
She appears to be picking up where she left off last year, when she scored in double figures in 14 of the final 24 games. She also dialed up her shooting percentage during that stretch and finished 11th in the Big 12 in field goal percentage during conference action. At the end of the year, Welch ranked No. 2 in conference-only games in 3-point percentage with a 44.9 mark.
This year, Welch ranks fourth in the Big 12. She is also fifth in the Big 12 in field goal percentage at .583.
Time to Talk About Rush
Leah Rush, the nation’s Most Underrated Player last season, is playing some of the best basketball of her career according to the OU coaching staff.
Over the last six games, Rush has been spectacularly consistent. Rush is averaging 13.3 points while shooting 63 (30-48) percent from the field, 75 percent (12-16) from 3-point range and 80 percent (8-10) at the free throw line. She has also committed just eight turnovers in 163 minutes of action.
On the season, Rush is shooting 65 (13-20) percent from 3-point range to lead the Big 12. She is also fourth in the league in field goal percentage at 59.7 percent.
Rush Movin' Up Scoring Chart
During the Northern Colorado game senior Leah Rush surpassed LaTrenda Phillips, for 14th place on the OU career scoring list. Rush currently has 1,212 points and is 10 shy of passing Jo Mosley (1986-89) at No. 13 with 1,221.
On The Milestone Verge...
Courtney Paris is 19 points shy of 1,000 in her career. She is also four steals shy of 50 and 21 assists shy of 100. Based on her current pace, Paris will easily be the fastest player in OU and Big 12 history to 1,000 career points. The Sooner center is also 10 rebounds shy of entering the OU career top-10 for rebounds. Melissa Richie (1986-89) is at No. 10 with 679.
Chelsi Welch is 11 points shy of the 1,000 point club.
Leah Rush (1,212) is 10 points shy of passing Jo Mosley (1986-89) at No. 13 with 1,221.
Ashley Paris is two defensive boards shy of 200, one rebound shy of 300 and 21 points shy of 300.
Home Court Advantage
OU is 3-0 at the Lloyd Noble Center this season, after going 12-1 on its home floor last season. OU owns a 92-19 (.829) home mark since the start of the 1998-99 season. The Sooners have won 11 straight home games.
Under Sherri Coale, OU is 97-34 (.740) at LNC. All-time, OU is 257-103 (.714) at Lloyd Noble.
3 - Wins in the Big 12 Championship
3 - Opponents under 30 percent FG %
7 - NCAA Tournament Berths
8 - Home Big 12 wins
8 - Winning seasons
9 - Road Big 12 wins
9 - Opponents under 30 percent FG %
11 - Home wins
12 - Regular season true road wins
13 - Regular season wins away from OU
20 - Regular season conference wins
23 - Regular season wins
25 - Weeks in AP and Coaches Polls
32 - Starts for Chelsi Welch
37 - Double-Doubles for Courtney Paris
45 - Double figure scoring games for Courtney Paris
45 - Starts for Courtney Paris
95 - Starts for Leah Rush
104 - Games with a made 3-pointer
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 nine in each game and owns a combined rebounding margin of +17.8, which currently ranks second in the Big 12. The Sooners lead Big 12 in rebounding defense (30.4), while ranking second in rebounding offense (48.2) and third in offensive rebounds (17.6) and defensive rebounds (30.7). 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 14.4 boards. Last season she averaged 15 per game. Amanda Thompson and Ashley Paris are also averaging 5.6 and 6.4, respectively.
The Sooners have collected 50 rebounds in four of nine games with a season high of 56 against DePaul.
OU leads the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.21. Senior guard Britney Brown is second among Big 12 players with a 2.76 ratio. Last season OU was eighth in the Big 12 with a ratio of 0.89.