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Big 12 Title Defense Begins Tonight
January 01, 2007

NORMAN -- The defending Big 12 Champion and preseason favorite Oklahoma women’s basketball team (10-1) opens the conference season at the Lloyd Noble Center with Kansas State (12-1) on Wednesday, Jan. 3 at 7 p.m. The Sooners have won 19 straight games against Big 12 teams and three straight against the Wildcats.

The game will air live on the Sooner Sports Network (Cox channel 7 in OKC Metro area) with the on-air talent team of Bob Carpenter and Debbie Antonelli. The game will also be available on KOKC 1520 AM with the regular pairing of Brian Brinkley and Tara DeGiusti.

OU has won 10 of 11 games this season with the lone loss coming to Ohio State before the Christmas break. OU rebounded from that loss with an 80-58 triumph over New Mexico thanks to a record breaking effort from Courtney Paris.  Paris had an OU record 43 points to go along with 25 rebounds, one shy of her own Big 12 and OU record. Her single game point total stands as the NCAA high this season.  It was also just the second time in Big 12 history that a player scored 40 points and collected 20 rebounds.

 Live Stats | Season Stats

OU also rebounded defensively after its worst defensive effort of the season against Ohio State. The Sooners held the No. 25 Lobos to 26 percent (17-65) shooting from the field and 18 percent (3-17) from 3-point territory.  It marked the fourth opponent in the last five games that OU held below 30 percent shooting.

Kansas State has carried momentum from last season when it won the Postseason WNIT Championship.  The Wildcats are 12-1 and are led on offense by sophomore point guard Shalee Lehning, who is third in the Big 12 in assists per game (5.9).  Plenty of those dimes have been dished to leading scorer Kim Dietz, who is averaging 14.6 a contest.

After the home Big 12 opener, OU will travel to Nebraska, who is off to a 12-2 start with several impressive wins.  The Dec. 6 game in Lincoln will also be broadcast by the Sooner Sports Network.

Setting The Scene
Date: Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2006
Location: Norman, Okla.
Venue: Lloyd Noble Center
Tipoff: 7 p.m. Central
TV: Sooner Sports Network
TV Talent: Bob Carpenter & Debbie Antonelli
TV Listing: Cox 7 in OKC Metro
Cox 3 in Tulsa
KXOK 32 in Enid
KSWX-5 in Lawton
Channell 22 PTCI in Guymon
KOMI-24 in Woodward
Metro Sports in Kansas City
Radio: KOKC (1520 AM), SoonerSports Radio Network and Yahoo! Radio
Radio Talent: Brian Brinkley & Tara DeGiusti
Radio Broadcast Info
Tickets:  (800) 456-GoOU
Promotions: Special Olympics Night

Player To Watch
Jenna Plumley flashed composure and offensive punch beyond her freshman experience against New Mexico last weekend. The rookie point guard was second on the squad in scoring with 11 points.  She also had a game high six assists and played 18 minutes, tops among OU point guards.  Her 3-4 effort from 3-point range catapulted her to a No. 3 Big 12 ranking in 3-point percentage (.526).

Recap - New Mexico
(AP) - Courtney Paris scored a school-record 43 points and grabbed 25 rebounds, helping No. 8 Oklahoma bounce back from its only loss with a 80-58 win over New Mexico.

The 6-foot-4 sophomore All-America center had her way against the Lobos, breaking the Oklahoma single-game scoring record of 40 points, set by Phyleshia Whaley against Arkansas in March 1999. She recorded the third-best rebounding game in school history.

Her 43 points were the highest total in NCAA Division I this season. The previous high was 41, by Carrie Moore of Western Michigan against Detroit.

Paris joined Baylor’s Danielle Cockrum as the only Big 12 Conference player ever to have at least 40 points and 20 rebounds in a game. Cockrum did it against Texas A&M in January 2001. Paris also set a Big 12 record for field goals in a game, finishing 20-of-26.

Oklahoma (10-1) has beaten New Mexico (10-3) three times in the last two seasons, this time ending the Lobos’ nine-game winning streak. Oklahoma had had its 23-game regular-season winning streak snapped by a loss to Ohio State on Dec. 20.

Paris had 20 points and 13 rebounds while staking Oklahoma to a 34-24 halftime lead and scored 17 of the Sooners’ first 19 points to start the second half. She passed Whaley’s record with 5:52 left.

Paris could’ve scored more points than the Lobos had she not gone 2-of-8 from the free-throw line. She shot 3-of-10 for the game.

Oklahoma never trailed. The Sooners held New Mexico scoreless for more than five minutes while building a 16-8 lead, and after the Lobos pulled within 18-16, Oklahoma used a 14-4 spurt to extend its margin to 32-20.

In the second half, Oklahoma scored the first 10 points to go ahead 46-26. New Mexico came within 51-43 with 12:35 left, but a 14-2 run, highlighted by 3-pointers from Jenna Plumley and Erin Higgins, put the Sooners back up by 20.

Plumley was the only other Oklahoma player to score in double figures, coming off the bench to finish with 11 points. Amanda Thompson added 11 rebounds for Oklahoma, which outrebounded the Lobos 53-31. New Mexico entered the game with a plus-5.2-rebound margin this season.

Dionne Marsh led New Mexico with 20 points, but went 5-of-19 from the field. Julie Briody added 13 points and Katie Montgomery scored 10 for the Lobos.

Postgame Notes
∙ Paris’ outburst improved her point average two points - from 21.5 to 23.5 - and her rebound average one - from 14.3 to 15.3.

Paris surpassed 700 career rebounds in the game, the 47th of her career.  That is another OU and Big 12 record for quickest pace to the total.

Jenna Plumley had a season high six assists.

Amanda Thompson’s 11 boards is a career high.

OU is 3-1 against ranked teams, with the lone loss coming to Ohio State.

The game marked the first time that the OU women’s basketball team had played in the Cox Convention Center and the first college game in the arena since the 2001 All College Classic.  On March 6-8 and 10, Cox will host the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship.

Previewing Kansas State
At 12-1 Kansas State is off to its second best start since the inception of the Big 12 era. The Wildcats lone loss came to Wisconsin in the UNLV Lady Rebel Shootout.  The Wildcats have won nine straight games.  Their most impressive victories this season have come over Creighton, Wyoming and Louisiana Tech.

Kansas State’s head coach Deb Patterson has a 211-114 record in 11 seasons at the helm.  The second most successful coach in KSU history has led her squad to five NCAA Tournaments and one Big 12 Championship.

Kansas State and OU have split 46 all-time meetings.  The Sooners have won three straight in the series and nine of 13 since the start of Big 12 play.  OU has won 11 of 20 all-time meetings in Norman.

Kansas State is a young squad with three sophomores and one junior in its starting lineup.  That young squad narrowly missed the NCAA Tournament last season and went on to win the WNIT Postseason Championship. 

The team leader for the Wildcats is sophomore point guard Shalee Lehning, who quickly established herself among the elite floor generals last season.  Lehning is averaging 6.9 points and 5.2 assists per game.  She picks her spots wisely on offense, as she is shooting 52.3 percent from the field.

Lehning is dishing out plenty of assists to leading scorer Kim Dietz.  Dietz is averaging 14. 6 points per game and is among three players in double figures.  Forward Marlies Gipson is the second leading scorer at 12. 4 with senior Clair Coggins close behind at 12.2.

Getting a Rush on the Competition
Leah Rush, who is shooting 56.5 percent from 3-point range, is deadly when she makes her first attempt of the game. She has done so in 22 contests over the last two seasons and shoots 61 percent  (38-62) when she hits her first from long range. OU is 21-1 in those contests with the lone loss coming to Illinois last season.  This year Rush has made her first attempt in four games, all OU wins, and she has shot 75 percent (9-12).

Points in the Paint
Thanks to a dominating inside presence, the Sooners are dominating opponents in the paint.  OU has outscored opponents 507-214 in the paint this season.  OU is averaging 46.9 points in the paint and limiting opponents to 19.5. The biggest single game advantage was a 42-0 difference against Northern Colorado.

Historic Defensive Stretch
OU has held 10 of 11 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. 

OU also held South Carolina, Arkansas Pine Bluff and Northern Colorado to below 30 percent in consecutive outings. That is another record streak.  OU had held two straight opponent below 30 percent on seven previous occasions in 33 seasons of Sooner basketball.  The Sooners have held four of their last five opponents below 30 percent, including New Mexico (.262) in its last outing.

OU is third in the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense at .318.  Only Ohio State (.450) has 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 Winning Streaks
OU has won 14 straight regular season games away from Norman, which is two shy of tying the Big 12 record of 16. The streak includes true road games and games at neutral sites. OU set that mark with 16 straight wins from December 2000 to December 2001.

OU has won 12 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.

OU has won 19 straight games against Big 12 teams (including last year’s postseason championship) and 17 straight regular season games  - 16 last year, one in 2004-05 - against conference foes.  The Sooners have also won eight straight Big 12 home games and nine straight Big 12 road games.

OU won 23 straight regular season games between Jan. 14, 2006 and Dec. 17, 2006.  The streak is the second longest in Big 12 history.  The record resides in Norman and is a 25-gamer by Oklahoma (January 2001-December 2001). 

Paris & Putbacks
24 (63-258) percent of Courtney Paris’ points this season have come after she pulled down an offensive rebound.  Of that total, 28 have come after her own miss, 30 have come after her teammates’ misses and five have come at the free throw line after being fouled after an offensive board.

The Double-Double Streak
Courtney Paris has recorded a double-double in 39 straight games.  The streak began against UCLA on Dec. 5, 2005.  The streak will be 394 days old when OU takes the court next.

The Half Double-Double
Courtney Paris has recorded a double-double in a single half on 14 occasions (6 first half, 8 second half).  She has achieved the mark against UCLA (second half), Tulsa (first half) and in both halves against New Mexico this season.

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 eight 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 set against Baylor in second frame of the 2006 Big 12 Championship.

Double Figure Twins
Courtney Paris and Ashley Paris have scored in double figures in the same game on 11 occasions, including four times this season. The 11 occasions account for all 11 double figures games of Ashley’s career.  OU is 10-1 when the low post twins reach 10 or more points.

What Brown Can Do for OU
Despite perhaps her worst statistical game of the year against Ohio State (five assists, seven turnovers), Britney Brown has still posted an impressive run over the last six games.  Including a career high 10 assist effort against South Carolina, Brown has posted an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.1 (34-to-16) over the last seven games. 

On the season she is third in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio with a 2.04 mark. She is also fifth in the Big 12 in assists per game at 5.0.

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 according to the OU coaching staff.

Since the fourth game of the season Rush is averaging 11.3 points while shooting 60 (35-58) percent from the field,  60 percent (12-20) from 3-point range and 80 percent (8-10) at the free throw line.   She has also committed just 12 turnovers in 210 minutes of action.

On the season, Rush is shooting 54 (13-24) percent from 3-point range, which ranks second in the Big 12.  She is also fifth in the league in field goal percentage at 58.4 percent.

Rush Keeps Moving up the Charts
During the New Mexico game senior Leah Rush surpassed Jo Mosely for 13th place on the OU career scoring list.  Rush currently has 1,222 points and is 80 shy of No. 12 Angie Alexander with 1,302.  Rush has moved up from No. 18 to No. 12 this season.

Welch Off To Strong Start
Chelsi Welch is off to a fast start to her senior season. Most recently she became the 21st member of the OU 1,000 point club when she scored 14 points against Ohio State on Dec. 20.

The 5-10 guard has scored in double-figures in six of 10 games this season, while tallying eight points in three others.  She posted a season high 23 points in the season opener against DePaul.  Last season, Welch only scored in double-figures on four occasions during the non-conference schedule

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.

This year, Welch ranks ninth in the Big 12 in field goal percentage at .548 and fourth in 3-point percentage at .514.

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