|No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 1 Alabama|
|Date||Friday, March 5 at 7 p.m. (CT)|
|Location||Norman, Okla. | Lloyd Noble Center|
|Tickets||Oklahoma Ticket Office | (405) 325-2424|
|Live Television||Cox Channel 3 (OKC), Channel 7 (Tulsa)|
|Live Webcast||Oklahoma All-Access|
NORMAN, Okla. - The second-ranked OU women's gymnastics squad returns to the LNC for its most anticipated home meet in program history in a battle with No. 1 Alabama on Friday, March 5, at 7 p.m. Friday will be the first meeting between the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in the nation since No. 2 Georgia upset top-ranked Florida 196.850-196.825 in Gainesville, Fla., on Jan. 18, 2008.
Oklahoma clinched its seventh straight victory over a top-25 opponent with a 196.825-194.125 win at No. 23 Michigan State (9-5, 3-3 Big Ten) on Feb. 26. The victory was capped off by Sara Stone's 10.00 on vault, the 11th perfect score in program history and fifth on the apparatus. Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide overtook the Sooners at the top of this week's national poll after a 197.225-195.650 win at Kentucky last Friday.
The two squads enter the head-to-head meeting ranked in the top seven on each apparatus, including a share of the top spot on beam with a regional qualifying score (RQS) of 49.205. The Sooners have posted the better score on beam (49.500/49.300) and floor (49.600/49.475), while the Crimson Tide have scored higher on vault (49.650/49.450) and bars (49.475/49.425).
|Oklahoma Roster | 2010 Schedule and Results | Intro Video|
Friday's meet will be televised live at 7 p.m. (CT) via the Sooner Sports Network on Cox Channel 7 in Oklahoma City and Cox Channel 3 in Tulsa. Bart Conner and Jenny Rowland have the call. It's the first live television broadcast in program history for both squads.
KNOW THE FOE
Alabama leads the all-time series 21-2. The Sooners are 1-7 against the Crimson Tide under K.J. Kindler, with their only win coming in the preliminary session of the 2007 NCAA Championships. Friday is the first regular season meeting between the two squads in Norman since 1991.
OU and Alabama last shared the floor at the 2009 NCAA Regional where OU took second with a 196.6 and the Crimson Tide won the meet with a 197.000. It marked the third year in a row that the two teams have competed at the same regional championship and the third that both teams have advanced to the NCAA Championships. Overall, the Oklahoma and the Crimson Tide have advanced out of the same regional four of the last six years.
Alabama returns seven All-American's from last year's SEC champion squad that clinched the Tide's 22nd top-four finish at the NCAA Championships.
Oklahoma and Alabama have been ranked in the top two in each of the last six weekly polls. The two squads have alternated between the top two spots each of the last four weeks.
Alabama is the third of four SEC opponents on OU's 2010 regular season slate. The Sooners defeated No. 4 Florida and ninth-ranked Auburn earlier this season and travel to Arkansas for a meeting with last year's Super Six qualifying squad on March 19.
SOONERS AGAINST THE SEC
Oklahoma is 6-18 against teams from the Southeastern Conference under fourth-year head coach K.J. Kindler. That figure is skewed slightly as 17 of the 24 meetings have come in NCAA postseason competition against the upper echelon of the SEC. The Sooners are 3-4 against SEC foes in the regular season, with wins over Auburn (2010), Arkansas (2008) and Florida (2010).
Friday's meeting with Alabama will mark the 19th time the Sooners have faced a team from the Yellowhammer state since 2003. Oklahoma will have faced Alabama 16 times during that period, including eight times in the last four years, while OU and Auburn have squared off on three occasions since 2003.
BIG SCORE COMPARISON
OU has posted 38 scores of 9.9 or higher through its first seven meets this season. Eight different gymnasts have scored at least a 9.9 in 2010, paced by Hollie Vise's 11 routines that have scored a 9.9 or better.
REGULAR SEASON SENSATIONS
Oklahoma is 52-6 in the regular season under K.J. Kindler, including a perfect 11-0 mark in 2010. The Sooners went 10-4 during the regular season in 2009, with three of those losses coming on the road (Florida, Nebraska and Alabama).
HOME SWEET HOME
The Sooners are 26-2 in Norman under fourth-year head coach K.J. Kindler. OU's only two losses at home have come against SEC opponents in Alabama and Arkansas. Top-seeded Alabama knocked off the Sooners en route to the NCAA South Central Regional title in 2008, while OU's loss to Arkansas in the 2009 home opener marked Oklahoma's only regular season home defeat in Kindler's tenure.
BUT THE ROAD ISN'T BAD EITHER...
The Sooners seek some of the same road success in 2010 that they have exhibited in recent years. On the young season, four of Oklahoma's top six scores have come in road competition, including a 197.050 at Mizzou last week. Oklahoma was the only squad in the top 10 to have both of its top two scores from 2009 come in road competition.
TOPS IN THE CONFERENCE
Oklahoma holds the best season average of all four Big 12 squads on every apparatus, while the Sooners hold the top mark in the individual standings on every event but vault. The back-to-back Big 12 Champions are 19-2 against conference opponents under K.J. Kindler, including a 11-1 mark during the regular season.
COMING FROM BEHIND
OU has trailed after a rotation just twice this season (at Missouri and at Illinois). The Sooners haven't trailed after the second rotation yet this season, overcoming a 49.150-49.100 deficit against the Tigers and a 49.100-49.000 deficit in Champaign to take leads at the halfway point of both meets.
IN ELITE COMPANY
The Sooners are one of just six squads to advance to the NCAA Championships every year since 2004, joining Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU and Utah on that elite list. OU's six championship appearances in the last six years matches the other three Big 12 programs combined during that period. Nebraska advanced to the NCAA Championships from 2004-07, while Iowa State made back-to-back appearances in 2005 and 2006 under K.J. Kindler.
Sara Stone's 10.00 on vault at Michigan State was the first perfect score by an Oklahoma gymnast since Kiara Redmond posted one on vault against TWU on Feb. 29, 2008. It was the third perfect routine in the NCAA this season and first by an underclassman. It was the 11th perfect score in program history and fifth on vault.
With its No. 1 ranking on Feb. 22, OU became the first Big 12 program to be ranked No. 1 in the country for multiple weeks during a single season. Oklahoma originally ascended to No. 1 nationally on Feb. 8, marking the first women's sport at OU to be ranked No. 1 during the regular season.
Setting the Scene - No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 1 Alabama | March 5 | 7 p.m. (CT) | Lloyd Noble
Oklahoma has gone 49.425 or higher on every event this season, including a 49.5 (beam) and a 49.6 (floor). The floor tally was the highest event score on any apparatus through the first seven weeks of the season before Alabama scored a 49.650 on vault against Kentucky.
NO "I" IN TEAM
OU has found a way to win despite the lack of a true all-around presence. Oklahoma's only all-around competitor this season was Kayla Nowak against Illinois, while the Sooners were the only squad ranked in the final 2009 top-15 GymInfo poll without a gymnast in the top-25 all-around rankings. Nowak was a last-minute addition to the vault lineup at Illinois and placed second in her first collegiate all-around appearance.
Sixty-three of Oklahoma's 192 routines this season have been performed by freshmen (.328), including exactly half of OU's uneven bars routines (24-of-48). The group is 62-of-63 on the year. Each freshman that has competed has scored at least a 9.8 in one of their routines, while Natasha Kelley has already tallied 16 scores of at least 9.85.
RACKING UP THE TITLES
The Sooners have collected 56 of a possible 64 combined individual and team event titles in 2010, including at least six combined individual and team event wins in each meet. OU has won every team event title on bars and floor in 2010.
Every Oklahoma gymnast in the bar lineup against Iowa State set or tied a career high. The Sooners posted a 49.425 on the apparatus, marking their third different event to record a score of at least 49.400 on this season. OU, Alabama and Georgia are the only three teams in the country that have scored at least a 49.400 on three different events in 2010. It was the second week in a row that the Sooners have had at least four gymnasts set a career high during a single rotation as OU had four gymnasts in the floor lineup accomplish the feat against Nebraska and TWU.
BEST IN THE COUNTRY
The Sooners have posted team total's of 49.600 on floor and 49.500 on beam, two of the top five marks in the NCAA on any apparatus this season. OU has posted the highest event score of any Big 12 team on every apparatus in 2010.
SOONER "FLOOR" COMPETITION
OU posted its highest event score on any apparatus under Kindler with a 49.600 on the floor exercise against Nebraska. The Sooners closed the rotation with five scores of 9.9 or higher. Oklahoma picked up career highs from Kristin Smith (9.95), Kayla Nowak (9.925), Hollie Vise (9.925) and Megan Ferguson (9.9), while Flanery sealed the win with a 9.9 in the final routine of the night.
Just like last season's second road meet of the season, the OU beam squad provided its breakout performance of the 2010 campaign in its second road outing at Illinois with a team tally of 49.500 on the apparatus. OU reeled off five straight 9.85s or better after a fall from the first position on beam at Illinois. Vise and Smith shared event honors with 9.95s, while Ferguson (9.9), Kelley (9.85) and Nowak (9.85) completed a sweep of the individual event standings on the apparatus.
Oklahoma's beam tally was its second highest event total on the apparatus under Kindler, just behind OU's 49.525 on beam at TWU on Jan. 17, 2009.
FOLLOWING THE SOONERS
The OU gymnastics program maintains its own Facebook, YouTube and Twitter accounts, which are updated frequently with all of the latest news about the squad. All of those links can be found on the main SoonerSports.com women's gymnastics page.
STELLAR YEAR IN THE CLASSROOM
Nine OU gymnasts earned 2009 NACGC All-Academic Scholar awards as the Sooners posted their highest GPA since 2004. Oklahoma's nine honorees was third best among teams advancing to last year's NCAA Championship, behind only Alabama (13) and Stanford (10).