NORMAN, Okla. -- The defending Big 12 Champion and No. 8/7 ranked Oklahoma women’s basketball team (11-1, 1-0 Big 12) will take its 20-game Big 12 winning streak on the road to Nebraska for a Saturday afternoon tilt. The Sooners and Huskers will tip off from the Bob Devaney Sports Center at 2:05 p.m.
The game will be televised by the Sooner Sports Network (Cox channel 7 in OKC metro area) and will also be available on ESPN’s Full Court package. Local sports anchor Mark Rodgers (play-by-play) and Kenny Mossman will serve as the on-air team for SSN. Fans can also listen to the action on KOKC-1520 AM with Brian Brinkley and Tara DeGiusti.
The Sooners opened the Big 12 season with a 78-58 home win over Kansas State. It marked the Sooners ninth straight home conference win. OU has also won 14 straight regular season games away from Norman, including nine in Big 12 action.
The Paris twins powered OU to its league opening win with a combined total of 30 points and 36 rebounds. The low post duo outrebounded Nebraska, 36-35. With 18 points and 19 rebounds, Courtney Paris was one rebound shy of becoming the first player in Big 12 history to record back-to-back 20 rebound games. Ashley tallied 12 points and a career high 17 boards, marking the fifth time both players have notched a double-double in the same game.
At 13-2 overall and 1-0 in league, Nebraska is one of the hottest teams in the Big 12. The Huskers made an early conference statement with a 79-75 win at Texas on Wednesday. The combined 48 points from Huskers Kiera Hardy (27) and Kelsey Griffin (21) was enough to stave off a 28 point outing by Longhorn Tiffany Jackson. Hardy and Griffin are leading NU in scoring this season at 15.9 and 15.7, respectively. Griffin, an All-Big 12 freshman team selection last season, is also the top rebounder at 8.4 per game.
Nebraska is the beginning of a two-game road swing for OU. After Lincoln, OU will travel to No. 9 Baylor for a 7 p.m. game on Jan. 10. The Sooners and Lady Bears met three times last season, with OU prevailing in each of the hard fought contests.
Setting The Scene
Date: Saturday, Jan. 6, 2007
Location: Lincoln, Neb.
Venue: Bob Devaney Sports Center (13,595)
Tipoff: 2:05 p.m. Central
TV: Sooner Sports Network (Cox channel 3 in OKC)
TV Talent: Mark Rodgers & Kenny Mossman
TV Listing: Cox 7 in OKC Metro
Cox 3 in Tulsa
KXOK 32 in Enid
KSWX-5 in Lawton
Channell 22 PTCI in Guymon
KOMI-24 in Woodward
Radio: KOKC (1520 AM)
Radio Talent: Brian Brinkley & Tara DeGiusti
Tickets: (800) 1-BigRed
Player To Watch
Erin Higgins is back. The Sooner senior shot just 20 (7-35) percent from 3-point range in the first eight games of the season. She has found her stroke in the last four games though. The OU all-time leader in 3-pointers made has sank 10 of 19 attempts (53 percent). The hot streak has raised her scoring average nearly two points - from 3.1 to 4.9 - and her 3-point percentage from 20 to 32. Higgins is shooting 43 (6-14) percent against NU in her career, including five treys in last year’s meeting.
Recap - Kansas State
(AP) - Twin sisters Courtney and Ashley Paris combined for 30 points and 36 rebounds to help No. 8 Oklahoma overcome a 3-point onslaught by Kansas State for a 78-58 win Wednesday night.
Four days after scoring a school-record 43 points on 20-for-26 shooting in an 80-58 win against No. 22 New Mexico, Courtney Paris struggled from the floor. She made only 9-of-21 shots, but still wound up with 18 points and 19 rebounds for her 40th straight double-double.
Ashley Paris had 12 points and 17 rebounds for her first double-double of the season, and Chelsi Welch added 12 points as the Sooners (11-1, 1-0 Big 12) won their 20th conference game in a row.
Marlies Gipson scored 14 and Ashley Sweat added 11 to lead Kansas State, which made 12 3-pointers on a season-high 24 attempts. The Wildcats (12-2, 0-1) had a nine-game winning streak snapped.
Courtney Paris, Oklahoma’s All-America center, converted only six of her first 18 shots before making three in a row. She left the game with 4:41 left after picking up her fourth foul with Oklahoma up by 16.
Kansas State had trimmed Oklahoma’s 16-point halftime lead to 46-36 on the second 3-pointer by Kimberly Dietz in an 8-2 Wildcats run early in the second half. But Oklahoma answered with five straight points, and then pushed the lead to 65-45 with a 12-3 run that included eight points from the Paris twins.
The two combined to outrebound Kansas State 36-35, and Oklahoma had a 22-rebound edge overall.
Kansas State sustained an early 10-0 Sooners run by hitting five of their first 11 shots from 3-point range. But after Sweat connected on back-to-back 3-pointers, Courtney Paris converted on an offensive rebound to start a 12-0 burst for Oklahoma.
By the time Welch sank a 3-pointer to finish the run, the Sooners were up 33-18 and the game was never in doubt after that.
Of Kansas State’s 18 made field goals, 12 came from beyond the 3-point line. The Wildcats’ 12 3-pointers were one off the record for an OU opponent.
OU held Kansas State to 28.6 percent from the field. The Sooners have now held five of their last six opponents under 30 percent from the field. Only Ohio State (.450) has shot over 40 percent against OU this season.
Oklahoma went the last 11:49 of the game without a turnover. The Sooners’ 12 turnovers were their third lowest total of the season. OU’s season low is eight, set against Northern Colorado.
Erin Higgins came into Wednesday’s game on a hot streak from 3-point range, shooting 50 percent (7-14) in the Sooners’ last three games. Against Kansas State she nailed her first two 3-pointers, and finished the game 3-5 (60 percent).
Higgins tied her season high with three 3-pointers in the first half. She has hit four or more 27 times in her career.
Leah Rush dished out a season-high four assists. Her career high is six, set against Missouri in last season’s Big 12 Championship semifinal.
Ashley Paris pulled down a career-high 17 rebounds. It marked the second time this season she has hit double figures in rebounds. She recorded double-digit rebounds in six games last season. Her previous career high was 13 against Iowa State last season.
After posting its highest non-conference win total in over 25 years, Nebraska began Big 12 play with its first ever win in Austin - a 79-75 triumph over Texas. Nebraska is 13-2 on the season, 5-1 at home and 1-0 in Big 12 play.
The Huskers are led by fifth year head coach Connie Yori, who has a 76-61 record with NU. Last season Yori led the Huskers to a 7-3 mark against Big 12 North competition. This season the Huskers have already matched last year’s one win against the South teams.
Nebraska is led by two-time All Big 12 first team selection Kiera Hardy. Hardy is averaging 15.9 points and is coming off a 27 point outing against Texas. Hardy has scored 56 points in the last two games.
Sophomore Kelsey Griffin is second on the team in scoring at 15.7 points. Griffin was on the All-Big 12 Freshman Team and earned Dallas Morning News Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors when OU’s Courtney Paris took the outlets Player of the Year award.
Also of note for Nebraska is senior Jelena Spiric, who sat out last season with a knee injury. Spiric (pronounced Speer-itch) started 23 games as a junior in 2004-05 after transferring from Colby Community College.
After dropping its season opener at highly ranked Arizona State by 27 points, the Huskers ran off six straight wins. NU defeated New and USC during that stretch, which was ended by a 74-65 loss to Minnesota. Since the Dec. 5 loss to the Gophers, Nebraska has won seven straight with impressive wins over N.C. State, Florida and the aforementioned Longhorns.
Last season Nebraska posted a Yori-era high 19 wins and an 8-8 league record. The Huskers won a game in the Big 12 Championship and a pair of games in the WNIT Postseason Championship.
Oklahoma leads the all-time series 23-22 but is just 5-16 in Lincoln. During the Big 12 era OU is 7-4 against the Huskers and 2-3 at the Devaney Center.
Last season, OU defeated Nebraska 73-45 in Norman on Senior Night. Erin Higgins led OU with 17 points, including five treys. Courtney Paris had 15 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. OU put the game out of reach in the second half when they outscored the Huskers 38-20. The Sooners held Hardy to 4-11 shooting, including 0-4 from long range, and 10 points. Not other Husker reached double figures.
OU is 7-0 away from Norman this season and 5-0 in true road games.
OU head coach Sherri Coale is two wins away from her and the program’s 100th Big 12 win. Coale owns a career Big 12 record of 98-63 (.609).
OU is averaging 81.1 points and 19.3 assists. Both numbers are up from last season when OU averaged 76.3 points and 16.8 assists.
OU has held seven of its last eight opponents under 10 assists. The streak of seven straight was snapped in the last game. The last eight opponents have averaged just 7.8 assists, with a low of five by Arkansas-Pine Bluff and a high of 14 by Kansas State
Historic Defensive Stretch
OU has held 11 of 12 opponents, including its first 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.
OU also held South Carolina, Arkansas Pine Bluff and Northern Colorado below 30 percent in consecutive outings. That is another record streak. OU had held two straight opponent below 30 percent on seven previous occasions in 33 seasons of Sooner basketball. The Sooners have held five of their last six opponents below 30 percent, including New Mexico (.262) and K-State (.286) in the last two games.
OU is second in the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense at .315. Only Ohio State (.450) has shot over 40 percent against OU this season. The lowest mark was a .224 by Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Northern Colorado. Last season 24 of 36 opponents failed to reach the 40 percent mark against OU.
The Winning Streaks
OU has won a Big 12 record 20 straight games against conference teams (including last year’s postseason championship) and 18 straight regular season games - 16 last year, one in 2004-05 - against conference foes. The Sooners have also won nine straight Big 12 home games and nine straight Big 12 road games. The previous record for consecutive wins was 16 by the 2000-01 OU team.
OU has won 14 straight regular season games away from Norman, which is two 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 regular season 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 won 23 straight regular season games between Jan. 14, 2006 and Dec. 17, 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).
Paris & Putbacks
25 (69-276) percent of Courtney Paris’ points this season have come after she pulled down an offensive rebound. Of that total, 30 have come after her own miss, 34 have come after her teammates’ misses and five have come at the free throw line after being fouled after an offensive board.
The Double-Double Streak Hits 40
Courtney Paris has recorded a double-double in 40 straight games. The streak began against UCLA on Dec. 5, 2005. The streak will be 397 days old when OU takes the court next.
The Half Double-Double
Courtney Paris has recorded a double-double in a single half on 14 occasions (6 first half, 8 second half). She has achieved the mark against UCLA (second half), Tulsa (first half) and in both halves against New Mexico 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 eight of these double-doubles coming against ranked teams. Paris’ career high for points in a half is 23 (Michigan State, 12-21-05, and New Mexico, 12/30/06). Her career high for rebounds in a half is 14 set against Baylor in second frame of the 2006 Big 12 Championship.
Double Figure Twins
Courtney Paris and Ashley Paris have scored in double figures in the same game on 12 occasions, including five times this season. The 12 occasions account for all 12 double figures games of Ashley’s career. Additionally, the twins have posted a double-double in the same game on five occations, including once this season. OU is 11-1 when the low post twins reach 10 or more points and 5-0 when they both record a double-double.
Big 12 History
All-time, OU has a 98-63 (.609) Big 12 record under head coach Sherri Coale. The Sooners have won four regular season titles (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006) and three Big 12 Championships (2002, 2004, 2006). The Sooners were picked by the coaches to win the 2006-07 regular season title.
Since the 1999-00 season, OU has won 76 percent of its regular season Big 12 games for a record of 85-28. That winning percentage is the best in the Big 12 during that time frame.
OU’s all-time record in regular season Big 12 play ranks fourth among member schools. The Sooners trail No. 1 Texas Tech (118-43), Texas (104-57) and Iowa State (101-60). Coale has the third most Big 12 wins among active coaches trailing Jody Conradt of Texas and Bill Fennelly of Iowa State.
Last season Oklahoma became the first team in Big 12 history to run the table to a perfect 16-0 record in league play. Then OU won three straight Big 12 Championship games to go 19-0 against the league this in 2005-06. The overall record is a Big 12 record.
Overall, OU is 54-26 (.675) in Big 12 games played at the Lloyd Noble Center and 44-37 (.543) in conference road contests.
Higgins Heating Up
Erin Higgins began the season in a slump from 3-point land. The OU all-time leader in 3-pointer made just 20 percent of her attempts in the first eight games and had just one multiple trey game during that span.
She has found her stroke in the last four games, shooting 53 percent and making 10 of 19 attempts. She has tallied 34 points in the last four games after having 25 combined in the first eight.
On the season Higgins is shooting 31.5 percent from 3-point range and ranks 15th in the Big 12 in makes per game at 1.42.
While Erin Higgins is the most recognizable 3-point shooter on the OU roster, she hasn’t been the most proficient this season. In fact, OU has three of the top four 3-point shooters in the league. Leah Rush (53.8 percent) ranks second, Jenna Plumley (50 percent) ranks third and Chelsi Welch (48.8) ranks fourth. Welch is also eighth in the Big 12 in makes per game at 1.67. As a team OU is third in the league with a 3-point percentage of 38.9, while ranking fifth in attempts.
What Brown Can Do For OU
Despite perhaps her worst statistical game of the year against Ohio State (five assists, seven turnovers), Britney Brown has still posted an impressive run over the last six games. Including a career high 10 assist effort against South Carolina, Brown has posted an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.0 (34-to-17) over the last eight games.
On the season she is second in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio with a 1.96 mark. She is also fifth in the Big 12 in assists per game at 4.6.
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.
Since the fourth game of the season Rush is averaging 10.6 points while shooting 54 percent from the field, 58 percent from 3-point range and 80 percent (8-10) at the free throw line. She has also committed just 12 turnovers in 261 minutes of action.
On the season, Rush is shooting 53.8 percent from 3-point range, which ranks second in the Big 12. She is also ninth in the league in field goal percentage at 54 percent.
Rush Keeps Moving Up the Charts
During the New Mexico game senior Leah Rush surpassed Jo Mosely for 13th place on the OU career scoring list. Rush currently has 1,227 points and is 75 shy of No. 12 Angie Alexander with 1,302. Rush began the season ranked No. 18 on the OU career scoring list.
Welch Off To Strong Start
Chelsi Welch is off to a fast start to her senior season. Most recently she became the 21st member of the OU 1,000 point club when she scored 14 points against Ohio State on Dec. 20.
The 5-10 guard has scored in double-figures in seven of 12 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 10th in the Big 12 in field goal percentage at .532 and fourth in 3-point percentage at .488.