Oklahoma-Duke Preview

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
MARCH 27, 2002

March 27, 2002

GAME: No. 1 Oklahoma (30-3) vs. No. 1 Duke (30-3).
ROUND: National semifinals.
TIME: Friday, 9 p.m. EST.
SITE: The Alamodome; San Antonio.

Oklahoma looks to become the first Big 12 team ever to reach the NCAA title game as it faces Duke in the semifinals.

The Sooners became the first team in the league to reach the Final Four, beating Colorado 94-60 in the West Regional title game on Monday.

"I think we are a legitimate title contender. We are not done yet," said All-American Stacey Dales, the regional's Most Valuable Player after finishing with 20 points and nine assists in Monday's win.

Oklahoma, which lost in the third round the past two years, has a Final Four to go with three straight Big 12 titles. The school is enjoying the double honor of having the men's team also in the NCAA Final Four, but is hoping for better luck than the other schools that have accomplished that rare feat.

In 1983, both of Georgia's teams lost in the semifinals. In 1999, both of Duke's teams lost in the championship game.

Though Oklahoma and Duke have never met, the schools have faced three common opponents; Texas, Texas Tech and TCU.

Oklahoma, which has won 17 of its last 18 games, went a combined 5-1 against the trio of teams, while Duke went a perfect 3-0.

The Sooners have succeeded without a true center. Jamie Talbert is the tallest starter at 6-2.

"It's no secret we don't have any height," Dales said. "We haven't had a post player for five years, but we play together and we're quick to the ball. We're 31-3. Obviously, height isn't a big difficulty."

Clearly height hasn't hindered the Sooners in the NCAA tournament, as they have won their tournament games by an average of 22 points.

Duke earned its second trip to the Final Four, beating South Carolina 77-68 in the East Regional finals. The win extended the Blue Devils' school-record winning streak to 22 games.

The Blue Devils are returning to the Final Four for the first time since 1999, when they lost to Purdue in the championship game.

Krista Gingrich, Duke's only senior, is the only player from the 1999 Final Four team, but the Blue Devils have needed little veteran leadership in winning 28 of their last 29 games.

"This team has a lot of confidence," Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said. "It has kind of become a trademark of our team."

The winner will face either Connecticut or Tennessee for the national championship on Sunday.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Oklahoma - F Caton Hill (12.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg), F Jamie Talbert (7.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg), G Rosalind Ross (11.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg), G LaNeisha Caufield (17.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg), G Dales (16.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.9 apg). Duke - F Michele Matyasovsky (6.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg), F Rachel Tillis (14.6 ppg, 8.1 rpg), C Wynter Whitley (7.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg), G Monique Currie (14.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg), G Alana Beard (20.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 4.5 apg).

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Oklahoma - Automatic bid, Big 12 tournament champion; defeated No. 16 Hartford 84-52, first round; defeated No. 9 Villanova 66-53, second round; defeated No. 4 Texas Tech 72-62, regional semifinal; defeated Colorado, 94-60 in the regional finals. Duke - Automatic bid, Atlantic Coast Conference champion; defeated Norfolk State 95-48, first round; defeated Texas Christian 76-66, second round; defeated Texas 62-46, regional semifinal; defeated South Carolina, 77-68, regional finals.

ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: Oklahoma - 10-4, 5 years. Duke - 21-8, 9 years.



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