Women's Rivalry Week Opens at Texas

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
JANUARY 29, 2007

NORMAN, Okla. -- Coming off its first conference loss in one season and a half, the No. 9 Oklahoma women’s basketball team (17-2, 7-1) begins rivalry week at Texas (14-7, 3-4) on Wednesday before hosting Oklahoma State (15-5, 3-4) this Sunday.  The Sooners and Longhorns will tip at 6 p.m. Central from the Erwin Center. 

The game is being broadcast by ESPNU with Mark Neely (play-by-play) and Nancy Lieberman (color commentary) calling the action.  ESPNU, which is generally part of an upgraded cable package, can be found on channel 253 on Cox Cable, channel 148 on Dish Network and channel 609 on Direct TV.   

The game will also be broadcast on the Sooner Sports Radio Network, which includes all affiliated radio stations including flagship station KOKC-1520 AM in the Oklahoma City-metro area.

 Game Notes | News Wire | Gameday Central | Season Stats

The Sooners shouldn’t need any motivation after their first conference loss in 24 games, but if they do, the match up with traditional rivals should provide it. 

Texas has been in and out of the top 25 all season and currently owns a 14-7 overall mark and a 3-4 Big 12 mark.  The Longhorns have scored impressive wins over Purdue and Texas A&M this season. Their league losses have come at home to Baylor and Nebraska and on the road to Iowa State and Texas Tech.  The Longhorns have been hit by the injury bug again this season, claiming sophomore Erica Arriaran, sophomore Mariana Mergerson and freshman Kristen Nash.

OU will attempt to extend its 18-game winning streak away from Norman in a venue that hasn’t been to kind to OU.  The Sooners are just 3-10 in Austin and 3-7 under Coach Coale.  Last year, the Sooners swept Texas thanks in large part to Courtney Paris’ averages of 26 points and 18 rebounds.

After the short trip to Austin, OU will chase a Bedlam sweep at the Lloyd Noble Center on Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets ($8 for adults, $5 for children) for the Bedlam rematch are going fast and fans are encouraged to call the OU Ticket Office (800) 456-GoOU.

Setting The Scene
Date: Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2007
Location: Austin, Texas
Venue: Erwin Center (12,000)
Tipoff: 6 p.m. Central
TV Talent: Mark Neely and Nancy Liebermann
Channel Listing: Cox channel 253
Direct TV channel 609
Dish Network channel 148
Radio: Sooner Sports Radio Network, Yahoo Radio (subscription)
Radio Talent: Brian Brinkley & Tara DeGiusti
Radio Broadcast Info
Tickets:  (512) 471-6060

Pregame Multimedia Center
  2006 Highlights: OU wins opening round with Texas
  2006 Highlights: Sooners survive scare in Austin
  O-Zone Audio: Courtney Paris on Texas

Player To Watch | The 411 on CP3
Courtney Paris is in the spotlight in the opening round of the Red River rivalry.  The Sooner center averaged 26 points, 18 rebounds and 3 blocks in two games against the Longhorns last season. As a rookie, Paris was familiar with many of the players on the UT from her AAU days.  This season, she will likely face a new defensive scheme from the Longhorns.  Paris is averaging 20 points, 16.3 rebounds and 4.4 blocks at the half way point of the Big 12 season.

Recap -Texas A&M 54, OU 52
(AP) - Morenike Atunrase scored 18 points before leaving with an injury and A’Quonesia Franklin added 13 points as No. 21 Texas A&M ended sixth-ranked Oklahoma’s 24-game Big 12 winning streak with a 54-52 win Saturday.

Texas A&M overcame a seven-point deficit with a 13-0 run, taking a 46-40 lead on Danielle Gant’s two free throws following a technical foul on Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale.

From there, the Aggies (14-5, 4-3) had to prevent the Sooners (17-2, 7-1) from staging their second rally this week from a five-point deficit in the final minute.

After Erin Higgins’ 3-pointer from the right wing pulled the Sooners within 50-48, Takia Starks answered with a 3 at the other end. After a series of misses by the Sooners and a turnover by Starks, Higgins drilled another 3 from the left sideline for a two-point difference with 55.1 seconds to play.

Leah Rush made one of two free throws to get Oklahoma within one, but La Toya Micheaux was fouled after grabbing the rebound on Rush’s miss and also hit 1-of-2 to put the Aggies up 54-52 with 3.5 seconds left.

Gant then blocked Kendra Moore’s desperation 3-pointer from the right wing to seal the win.

Rush scored 16 points to lead Oklahoma, and Courtney Paris ended up with a season-low 12 points and 20 rebounds for her 47th straight double-double. Oklahoma’s scoring output was its lowest of the season, and the Sooners committed a season-high 28 turnovers.

Oklahoma, which also had an eight-game win streak snapped, hadn’t lost a Big 12 game since Texas beat the Sooners at the Big 12 tournament on March 9, 2005.

Starks added 11 points for Texas A&M.

The Aggies charged into the lead while Atunrase, who’d led them back from a 10-point, first-half deficit, was on the bench with four fouls.

Starks hit a 3-pointer to start the decisive run and had another to make it 44-40 after Moore had twice knocked the ball into the backcourt. Coale then called timeout and continued arguing with an official, drawing the technical.

Oklahoma extended the lead to seven with five straight points from Rush before Atunrase trimmed it to 35-33 with a steal and layup. But she was then taken out after picking up her fourth foul with 12:33 to play.

Postgame Notes
The loss ended a streak of 26 straight wins against Big 12 teams, 24 in regular season Big 12 play and 11 at home against Big 12 teams. ... Saturday’s attendance of 11,486 was the Sooners’ fifth largest all-time ... Erin Higgins surpassed 900 career points with her six point output ... Courtney Paris took an elbow to the face in the first half that created a cut that had to be bandaged up ... The injury required two stitches ... C. Paris recorded her 47th straight double-double ... With 52 in her career she is just two away from tying Molly McGuire for the OU career record ... With 20 rebounds, C. Paris moved past Dionnah Jackson into fourth place on the OU career list with 837 boards ... C. Paris’ 20-rebound game was her second this season and the seventh of her career ... Her career single game high is 26, set against Baylor in last season’s Big 12 Championship game ... Leah Rush (16 points) moved into 12th place on OU’s all-time scoring list ... Her 1,306 career points surpassed Angie Alexander, who played with the Sooners from 1989-92.

Previewing Texas
The Texas Longhorns are 14-7 on the season and 3-4 in Big 12 play.  UT has won at Missouri and at home against Colorado and  Texas A&M.  The Longhorns have dropped Big 12 games to Nebraska and Baylor at home and to Texas Tech and Iowa State on the road.  Texas is 11-3 at the Erwin Center this season with the other  home loss coming to Tennessee.

OU will be attempting to win its third straight game against UT for the just the second time in program history.  OU is 10-19 against the Longhorns all-time.  The other three-game winning streak came from 2001 to 2002. OU is 3-10 all-time in Austin and 3-7 since the inception of the Big 12.

Texas is led by Jody Conradt, who has a 896-300 career record.  She is the active Big 12 leader in career wins with 108 opposed to 59 losses.  OU’s Sherri Coale is tied for second with Iowa State’s Bill Fennelly with 104 career wins.

In league play, the Longhorns are averaging 64.3 points and shooting 39.8 from the field.  They are  holding opponents to a 40.8 shooting percentage and allowing 61.3 points per game.  UT has made just 19 3-pointers and is losing the battle of the boards 38.3 to 37.4.

All-American Tiffany Jackson leads the Longhorns in points (18.2), rebounds (8.9), steals (2.5) and blocks (1.2).  Her point and rebound total ranks fourth in the Big 12, while her steals average is the best.

Texas lost 10.5 points per game when sophomore Erika Arriaran went down with a season ending knee injury.  In her absence the Longhorns have five players averaging 8-plus points in league action.  Junior guard Erneisha Bailey (10.4) is the only player other than Tiffany Jackson in double figures. 

The other story for Texas is the three starting freshmen.  Redshirt-freshman  point guard Carla Cortijo is averaging  9 points and four assists.  True freshman Brittainey Raven is averaging 9 points and 2 rebounds per game, while redshirt freshman and Oklahoma native Earnesia Williams is scoring 8.6 points and clearing 5 boards.

Sooners vs. Texas PTS REB Career High
Brown   3.5 1.3 13 points (1-25-06)
Higgins  4.4 2.4 14 points (1-25-06)
Moore 0.0 0.3 1 rebound (2-26-05)
A. Paris    6.5 9.5 11 points (1-25-06)
C. Paris   26 18 32 points (1-25-06)
Rush    11.1 4.4 19 points (3-9-05)
Sanchez    1.3 0.5 5 points (2-15-06)
Welch    9.7 1.8 20 points (1-29-03)

Second Half Rush
Leah Rush has scored 84 points in Big 12 play.  Of that output, 54 of those points have come in the second half of league games. That total accounts for 64 percent of her conference total.  Her efforts have helped OU overcome second half deficits and claim wins on four occasions.

Pregame Lay-Ups
OU moved up to No. 8 in the latest round of RPI numbers released by the NCAA on Jan. 23. The NCAA will announce the RPI rankings on NCAASports.com on a weekly basis for the remainder of the season.

OU is 11-0 away from Norman this season and 9-0 in true road games.

Sherri Coale currently has 104 Big 12 wins, which is second among active coaches.  She trails league leader and Texas head coach Jody Conradt (108).

OU is 50-1 when it is ranked in the top-10 and the opponent is not ranked.  The lone loss came to Washington in the 2001 Sweet 16.  OU is 1-0 against teams receiving votes this season.

OU has an average scoring margin of +11.9 in Big 12 games this season, which includes five double digit wins. 

Paris Leads NCAA
For the second consecutive season, Courtney Paris appears among the NCAA statistical leaders more than any player in the country.  Paris ranks in the top 10 in four categories: double-doubles, points, rebounds and blocks.  She is also 16th in field goal percentage.  No other player in the NCAA ranks in the top 10 in more than two categories. 

52 Double-Doubles, 47 Straight | Paris' Double-Doubles
Courtney Paris has 52 career double-doubles in 55 career games.  She has recorded a double-double in 47 straight games.  The streak began against UCLA on Dec. 5, 2005.  The streak will be 419 days old when OU takes the court next.

The Half Double-Double | Paris' Big Games
Courtney Paris has recorded a double-double in a single half on 17 occasions (7 first half, 10 second half).  She has seven single half double-doubles this season: UCLA (second half), Tulsa (first half), Texas Tech (first half) Colorado (second half), Baylor (second half) and in both halves against New Mexico.

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 10 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 (Baylor (3/11/06 & Kansas State 1/3/07).

Paris & Putbacks
22 (93-418) percent of Courtney Paris’ points this season have come after she pulled down an offensive rebound.  Of that total, 36 have come after her own miss, 48 have come after her teammates’ misses and nine have come at the free throw line after being fouled after an offensive board.

Forget The Hack-A-Shaq
Opponents might rethink the idea of employing the hack-a-Shaq defense on Courtney Paris at the end of games.  The Sooner center shot 71 (27-38) from the free throw line in the final four minutes of games last season.  She is 9-of 16 in that scenario this season and owns a career percentage of 68 (36-53) percent.  Below are more number breakdowns for Paris at the charity stripe in the final four minutes of games.

  2006-07  Career
Home   0-0 12-16 (.750)
Road  9-15 18-26 (.692)
Neutral 0-1 6-11 (.545)
Total    9-16 (.562) 36-53 (.679)

Double Figure Twins
Courtney Paris and Ashley Paris have scored in double figures in the same game on 14 occasions, including seven times this season. The 14 occasions account for every double figure game of Ashley’s career.  Additionally, the twins have posted a double-double in the same game on five occasions, including once this season.  OU is 13-1 when the low post twins reach 10 or more points and 5-0 when they both record a double-double.

Historic Defensive Stretch
OU has held 17 of 19 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. 

The Sooners have held six opponents under 30 percent shooting, all in the last 13 games.  Earlier in the season, OU also held South Carolina, Arkansas Pine Bluff and Northern Colorado below 30 percent in consecutive outings. That streak is an OU record.  OU has held two straight opponents below 30 percent on eight occasions in the program history.

OU is first in the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense at .327.  Only Ohio State (.450) and Texas Tech (.443) have 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 End of the Winning Streak
OU’s loss to Texas A&M on Jan. 27 snapped two Big 12 record winning streaks.  OU had won 26 straight games against conference teams (including last year’s Big 12 Championship).  The Sooners had also won 24 straight in regular seaosn play (7 in 2006-07, 16 in 2005-06, one in 2004-05). 

The Active Winning Streaks
OU has won 13 straight Big 12 road games.

OU has won 18 straight regular season games away from Norman, which is a Big 12 record.  The streak includes true road games and games at neutral sites. OU broke its own Big 12 record established with 16 straight wins from December 2000 to December 2001.

  OU has won 16 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.

1,000 point Club Membership | OU 1,000 Point Scorers
Three current Sooners - Leah Rush, Courtney Paris and Chelsi Welch - are in the OU 1,000 point club.  Rush reached the career milestone against Baylor on Feb. 12, 2006.  Courtney Paris and Chelsi Welch both reached it against Ohio State on Dec. 20, 2006.  It marks the third time that OU has had three 1,000 point scorers on the same team.  The other instances were 1994-95 (Angi Guffy, Mandy Wade and Etta Maytubby) and 2001-02 (Stacey Dales, LaNeishea Caufield, Caton Hill). Only 11 known NCAA Division I teams have had four players with the 1,000 career points.

Erin Higgins is also closing in on the 1,000 career points and could reach the milestone by the end of the season.  Below is her projection, in terms of games needed to get to 1,000:

 Player  Points  Average   Projected Games
 Erin Higgins  904  7.6  12 Games

Giving Moore
Kendra Moore has cranked up her game during Big 12 play. The Sooner senior point guard has come off the bench to average 9.6 points since the start of Big 12 play.  The Ardmore, Okla.,  native has scored 77 (82.7 percent) of her season total of 93 points since the start of Big 12 play.  She is also averaging 2.4 steals per game during league action, which is the best mark in league play.

Pink OUt Planned for Texas
The OU Athletics Department will also a hold a “Pack The Place Pink Night” for the Feb. 12 Red River Rivalry match up with Texas on ESPN2. In an effort to promote breast cancer awareness and early detection, free pink t-shirts will be placed in every seat and again fans are encouraged to put them on when they arrive.

Fans are encouraged to donate to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation when they enter the arena. Volunteers will be available on the concourse to take donations. 

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 11 games, shooting 39 percent and making 18 of 46 attempts.  She has tallied  62 points over that span after having 25 combined in the first eight games. On the season Higgins is shooting 30.9 percent from 3-point range.

Big 12 History
All-time, OU has a 104-64 (.619) 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 90-29.  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 third among member schools.  The Sooners trail No. 1 Texas Tech (122) and Texas (108).  Coale (104) is currently second in Big 12 wins among active coaches behind Jody Conradt (108) of Texas.

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.

This season marked the third time OU has started 7-0.  OU also accomplished the feat in 1999-00 and 2005-06.

Overall, OU is 56-27 (.675) in Big 12 games played at the Lloyd Noble Center and 48-37 (.565) in conference road contests.

3-Point Threats Everywhere
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 seven long range shooters in the league.  Chelsi Welch (48.4) is second in the Big 12 and Leah Rush (47.5) ranks third. Britney Brown (34.6) and Jenna Plumley (36.4) are also shooting over 34 percent from long range.  Welch is also eighth in the Big 12 in makes per game at 1.58.  As a team OU ranks second in the Big 12 and 23rd nationally with a 3-point percentage of 36.9.

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.  Rush is third on the OU team in scoring at 10.6 points per game and is posting career highs in 3-point percentage (47.5), field goal percentage (52.9) and assist-to-turnover ratio (0.96). She ranks third in the Big 12 in 3-point percentage and fifth in field goal percentage.

Welch Going Out Strong
Chelsi Welch is putting together a stellar senior campaign. The season has been highlighted by her addition to the OU 1,000 point club, which she reached with 14 points against Ohio State on Dec. 20.

The 5-10 guard has scored in double-figures in 11 games this season, while tallying at least eight points in four others.  She posted a season high 23 points in the season opener against DePaul.  Last season, Welch scored in double-figures on four occasions during the non-conference schedule and 16 times total.

This year, Welch ranks 11th in the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 52.0, which is the highest mark among guards.  She is also second in the league with a 3-point percentage at 48.4.

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.

Free Throw Improvement
As a team, OU has improved at the free throw line since the start of Big 12 play.  OU shot 58.8 (120-204) from the charity stripe in 11 non-conference games.  They averaged 18.5 free throw attempts per game.

In eight Big 12 games, OU is shooting 69.1 (125-181) from the free throw line.  The Sooners are also getting to the line more, 22.6 times per game. On an individual basis nine players - Courtney Paris, Chelsi Welch, Leah Rush, Kendra Moore, Ashley Paris, Britney Brown, Amanda Thompson, Krista Sanchez and Jenna Plumley - have a higher league free throw percentage than season percentage. 

Team Effort
A team effort is behind the Sooners success this season. No stat, or perhaps lack of stats, is more indicative of that than the fact that no OU player ranks among the Big 12 leaders in minutes played for the all games or Big 12 games.  Courtney Paris is averaging a team high 29.3 minutes per game, which is more than two shy of cracking the top-10.

Coale, OU Win 100th Big 12 Game
OU head coach Sherri Coale, who has been at the helm for the entire Big 12 era, won her and the program’s 100th Big 12 game at Baylor on Jan. 10, 2007.  Coale, who currently has 104 Big 12 wins, is second behind Texas’ Jody Conradt (108) among active coaches.

On the Milestone Verge...
Courtney Paris reached 1,200 career points against Texas A&M in her 55th career game, which is the fastest pace in OU and Big 12 history.  She enters the Texas game 10 assists shy of 100 and 14 blocks shy of 200.   The Sooner center is 55 rebounds shy of No. 3 on the OU career list, 31 shy of No. 2 on OU offensive rebound list and 18 shy of No. 3 on the OU defensive rebounds list.   She is also 14 points shy of No. 14 Jo Mosley (1,221 points) on the OU career scoring list.

Leah Rush (1,305) is 49 points shy of passing No. 11 Tami Rogers (1,353 points) on the OU career scoring list.

Chelsi Welch is three points shy of No. 20 Janet Freeman-Southard (1,093 points) on the OU career scoring list.

Getting a Rush on the Competition
Leah Rush, who is shooting 47.5 percent from 3-point range, is deadly when she makes her first attempt of the game. She has done so in 24 contests over the last two seasons and shoots 61 percent  (41-67) when she hits her first from long range. OU is 22-2 in those contests with the losses coming to Illinois last season and Texas A&M this season.  This year Rush has made her first attempt in six games and she has shot 70.5 percent (12-17)



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