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Consistency Defines OU's Paris
February 28, 2007

NORMAN, Okla. -- (AP) There's not much in a box score that gets Courtney Paris excited anymore. With a consecutive double-doubles streak that has extended well past a year, impressive feats have become a bit monotonous.

And it started even before she got to Oklahoma and became an All-American. After a so-so game on the Paris scale, she'd turn to her twin sister and ask for an evaluation.

"You're just you," Ashley Paris would say.

In college, "just" being Courtney Paris means having this stat line on an average night: 23.8 points, 15.9 rebounds and 3.5 blocks -- good enough to rank third in the nation in scoring, second in rebounding and fourth in blocked shots.

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So when Paris would record one of the lesser double-doubles in her ongoing 54-game streak, there were questions about what went wrong.

"It's a great compliment to me," Paris said. "I want excellence to be a standard. I don't expect for me to have a 20-point, 12-rebound game and everyone to go, 'Oh, yes! Good job. How did you do it?' I feel like that means I'm only doing it once in a blue moon."

Paris has shaken off that talk with the first back-to-back 30-point games of her career in Oklahoma's wins against Kansas and Missouri last week. She joined Phylesha Whaley as the only Oklahoma players with consecutive 30-point games, and she'll try to be the first with three straight when the 12th-ranked Sooners host No. 15 Baylor on Wednesday night with the Big 12 title on the line.

Paris has had two 30-point performances in four career games against Baylor (24-5, 11-4), which trails Oklahoma (22-4, 12-3) and Texas A&M (22-5, 12-3) by one game in the Big 12 standings. Oklahoma can win the title outright if it beats Baylor and A&M loses to Texas, or the Aggies can do the same if the opposite happens.

Even Baylor can get into the mix with a win and a Texas A&M loss. The conference is ready for it all, planning to bring two trophies to Norman and another to College Station, Texas, for the A&M-Texas game.

"As coaches, I'm not sure how exciting it is. It's probably more stressful than exciting," Bears coach Kim Mulkey said.

As it stands now, Texas A&M would get the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament because of its series sweep of Oklahoma this season. The Sooners would be seeded second and Baylor third.

"I think our guys understand completely what's on the line. If anything else great happens around the conference, that's just gravy," Sooners coach Sherri Coale said.

Oklahoma, the league favorite after going 19-0 against Big 12 competition last season, has had to rally after losing three times in a four-game span midway through conference play.

Coale changed her lineup, inserting freshmen Jenna Plumley and Amanda Thompson, and she found a burst of energy that has propelled the Sooners to four straight wins.

"Those are really the kinds of things that the new lineup has created as much as anything -- a touch, a deflection, a save, a dive, a charge. Those little effort things that ignite you," Coale said.

Plus, they've been able to find creative new ways to get the ball to Paris, a dominating 6-foot-4 presence inside, against opponents ever-changing strategies to stop her.

"To me, I'm going to still post. But for the guards, it's a big adjustment on them because they know they need to get me the ball but they don't know what's going to be open," Paris said. "It's not like you can really plan for it. I think they're just doing a better job of adjusting sooner and reading the defense."

As a result, Coale thought Paris' 32 points against Missouri were "as quiet a 30 as you can get."

"It's not like we came down and just pound, pound, pounded it to her," Coale said.

Paris found herself more impressed with the defensive abandon her team showed in getting 13 steals than with the second 30-point, 20-rebound game of her career. After all, it was nothing out of the ordinary.

"If there's something extra, then you'll notice. But as far as stat lines and rebounds and shooting layups, as long as I'm playing basketball that's what I'm going to be trying to do," Paris said. "Everyone's used to that and I'm used to that. That's my job."

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