Aug. 27, 2002

NORMAN, Okla. - The Oklahoma women's basketball team will open its 2002-03 season as it ended the 2001-02 campaign, playing in a nationally televised game on ESPN against an NCAA Final Four team. OU will face national power Tennessee on Nov. 10 as one of four teams competing in the 10th Annual State Farm Tip-Off Classic in Knoxville, Tenn., the home of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. This marks the second consecutive year the Sooners have been invited to participate in this event. OU defeated Purdue last year. Big 12 foe Texas Tech, Louisiana Tech and host Tennessee join the Sooners as they open the 2002-03 women's basketball season inside the Thompson Boling Arena.

"We had a tough schedule prepared before ESPN called and said we want you to be involved in the State Farm Tip-Off Classic again," said OU Head Coach Sherri Coale. "When you have an opportunity to be on national television in front of millions of people, you have to take it.

"This will be a great experience for us. We've never played Tennessee in any venue. Their tradition of winning, particularly in Thompson-Boling, is unprecedented and we'll find out what we're made of. We'll put our young players out there in a very difficult environment. It will be a game that will draw a lot of national interest, obviously. And it will be a game that will, ultimately, tell us a lot about our team."

For the fifth consecutive year, the Sooners will also be one of four state teams participating in the annual Bertha Teague Classic held at the Reynolds Center in Tulsa, Okla. Oral Roberts, Oklahoma State and host Tulsa complete the field that will face each other on Nov. 22-23.

Over the Thanksgiving break, Oklahoma heads to Hawaii as one of eight teams competing in the Hawaiian Airlines Rainbow Wahine Classic on Nov. 29-Dec. 1. OU opens the tournament against Fordham on Nov. 29 but could possibly face North Carolina, Connecticut, DePaul, Hawaii, Denver and Gonzaga during the three-day tournament.

"This is just a really terrific tournament," said Coale. "On our side of the bracket we have Fordham, DePaul and North Carolina. DePaul and North Carolina are top 25 programs and won games in the NCAA Tournament last year. Both programs are very talented, each roster full of athleticism and size. We're going to get tested. And the championship game of the tournament could potentially be a rematch of last year's National Championship game as Connecticut will be the favorite on the opposite side of the bracket. This is a great opportunity for us to continue to learn about our team and prepare them for the rigorous Big XII schedule that awaits in January."

Also highlighting OU's non-conference schedule this season will be home matchups against Stephen F. Austin on Dec. 5 and SMU on Dec. 21 plus road trips to TCU on Dec. 14 and Stanford on Jan. 3, all potentially top 25 teams.

Oklahoma will attempt to capture its fourth Big 12 Conference regular season title in as many years against a league that saw seven teams make last year's NCAA Tournament (Iowa State, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Baylor, Colorado, Texas and Oklahoma), for the second consecutive year. The Big 12 led the nation with all seven of its teams earning top four seeds and hosting NCAA subregionals.

The Sooners will face South Division foes Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech twice and will play each member of the North Division once. North Division foes who will visit Lloyd Noble Center are Kansas State (Feb. 1), Iowa State (Feb. 22), Missouri (Feb. 26).

"The Big XII conference is the best women's basketball conference in America," said Coale. "We had seven teams in the NCAA Tournament last year. The 2002-03 season will be no less competitive. We will be challenged every night. And that's great. It's fun to play in this league. It's fun to play in front of packed houses and it's an advantage come tournament time to have been tested in these environments against such brutal competition."

Oklahoma already has been selected as one of 16 host institutions for the First and Second Round games of the 2003 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship. OU will host its first and second round games on Sun., March 23, and Tues., March 25, at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, opposite the NCAA Men's Tournament that will be taking place in Oklahoma City on Sat., March 22, and Mon., March 24.

2002-03 OU Women's Basketball Schedule
November
5 Oklahoma Christian
10 1-@ Tennessee (ESPN)
14 Exhibition Game
22 2-vs.Tulsa
23 2-vs. Oral Roberts
26 vs. Sam Houston State
29-Dec.1 @Hawaiian Airlines Rainbow Wahine Classic

December
5 Stephen F. Austin
9 @ Wichita State
14 @ TCU
21 SMU
28 Southeast Missouri State

January
3 @ Stanford
11 @ Nebraska
15 Texas Tech
18 Texas A&M
22 @ Kansas
26 @ Baylor
29 Texas

February
1 Kansas State
5 @ Texas A&M
9 Oklahoma State
12 Baylor
16 @ Colorado
19 @ Texas Tech
22 Iowa State
26 Missouri

March
1 @ Oklahoma State
5 @ Texas
11-15 @Big 12 Tournament

KEY: 1 - State Farm Tip-Off Classic (Knoxville, Tenn.) 2 - Bertha Teague Classic (Tulsa, Okla.)