Sooners Take On No. 1 UConn Tuesday

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Tyler Pigg
By Tyler Pigg
Associate Director of Communications
DECEMBER 18, 2017

Oklahoma
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1/1 UConn
Dec. 19 | 6 p.m. | Uncasville, Conn.

TUESDAY'S GAME BASICS

The Sooners close out non-conference play with No. 1/1 Connecticut on Tuesday at the Women's Holiday Showcase in Uncasville, Conn. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. CT. UConn leads the all-time series, 10-0, and Tuesday's matchup marks the first meeting between the Sooners and Huskies since the 2011-12 season.

ON THE AIR

Tuesday's game will be televised on CBS Sports Network with Brent Stover, Debbie Antonelli and Jamie Erdahl on the call. The contest will also air on the Sooner Radio Network with Brian Brinkley calling the action.


FIVE THINGS TO KNOW

• Oklahoma concludes its challenging non-conference slate as it travels to face No. 1/1 UConn for the Women's Holiday Showcase. The Sooners' offense has been clicking on all cylinders over the last two games, averaging 92.0 points per contest on .496 shooting from the field. OU has posted a .404 clip from beyond the arc and made 23 triples over the last two games.

• Oklahoma's offensive efforts over the last two games have been led by senior guard Gabbi Ortiz. Since Dec. 9, the senior is averaging 28.0 points and 4.5 rebounds per contest, while shooting .586 from the field and .600 from 3-point range. Ortiz has hit 15 3-pointers in the last two games, the most by an OU player in back-to-back games in school history.

• OU's freshmen duo of Ana Llanusa and Shaina Pellington are the two top scorers among Big 12 freshmen. Llanusa leads Big 12 freshmen at 12.4 points per game, while Pellington is second at 11.9 points a contest. Llanusa scored a career-high 27 points against New Mexico on Saturday, which is tied for the 10th-most by an OU freshman in a single game in program history. Pellington has led the Sooners in scoring three times in the last five games.

• UConn head coach Geno Auriemma is just one victory away from his 1,000th career victory. The Sooners are 1-0 all-time when facing opposing head coaches in search of their 1,000th career victory. OU defeated Tennessee, 80-70, on Feb. 2, 2009, to keep Pat Summitt from reaching the 1,000-win plateau.

• OU is in the middle of a five-game stretch that is arguably the toughest slate that a team will face to close the month of December. After defeating No. 16/16 South Florida and previously undefeated New Mexico, the Sooners' strength of schedule is currently ranked No. 5 by RealTimeRPI.com. OU will close the month out against No. 1 UConn, at home versus No. 6 Texas and on the road at Iowa State.


GAME 10 RECAP: NEW MEXICO

• Oklahoma handed New Mexico its first loss of the season in dominant fashion, claiming a 105-63 win on Saturday inside Lloyd Noble Center. Ana Llanusa led the Sooners in scoring with a career-high 27 points, the most by an OU freshman in a one game since 2010. Llanusa tied her career high with four treys, collected seven rebounds and shot 9-of-22 from the floor.

• Gabbi Ortiz added 25 points, while Vionise Pierre-Louis earned her fourth double-double of the season with 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting and 13 rebounds. Ortiz finished 8-of-15 from the field and knocked down seven 3-pointers. The senior is the first OU player to score 25 points or more in back-to-back games since Aaryn Ellenberg in 2014. Gileysa Penzo recorded 11 assists, the most by a Sooner in a single game since 2013. Penzo is the 11th Sooner all-time to post 10 or more assists in a single game.

• Maddie Manning finished with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field and hit three 3-pointers. Mandy Simpson also collected a career-high 12 rebounds off the bench.

• The Sooners put together an explosive first half, scoring 28 points in each quarter to take a 56-25 lead into the locker room at halftime. OU used a 19-0 run in the second quarter to put the game out of reach early. In the first quarter, the Sooners shot 10-of-21 (.476) from the field while limiting New Mexico to just four field goals.

Gabbi Ortiz

Gabbi Ortiz ranks seventh in the nation with 38 made 3-pointers this season.

PREVIEWING UCONN

• UConn enters the contest with an 8-0 record and will be playing its first game since Dec. 8. The Huskies are averaging 87.8 points per game, which ranks third in Division I and are shooting .517 from the field, .401 from beyond the arc and .722 at the free throw line. UConn ranks fourth in the nation in assists per game (22.7) and sixth in fewest fouls committed (116).

• Despite missing four games, junior Katie Lou Samuelson leads the Huskies in scoring at 17.8 points per game. Senior Kia Nurse is averaging 15.4 points per game and ranks third in the nation with a .550 3-point shooting percentage. Sophomore Crystal Dangerfield is fifth in Division I with a .535 3-point shooting percentage and is averaging 14.3 points a contest along with 5.6 assists per game.

• UConn is under the direction of 32nd-year head coach Geno Auriemma. Auriemma is 999-135 with the Huskies and has won 11 NCAA titles with the program, made 18 Final Fours and recorded six undefeated seasons.


RARE, BUT FAMILIAR TERRITORY

• As UConn head coach Geno Auriemma goes for his 1,000th career win Tuesday night, it will mark the second time the Sooners have faced a head coach attempting to accomplish the feat. OU denied former Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt from her 1,000th career win as OU defeated the Lady Vols, 80-70, in Oklahoma City on Feb. 2, 2009.


BACK ON TRACK

• Over the last two games, OU's offense has returned to its early season form. The Sooners are averaging 92.0 points per game on shooting .496 from the floor and .404 from range during that stretch.

• Gabbi Ortiz has made 15 3-pointers over the last two contests, which ranks as the most combined treys in back-to-back games in program history. The senior's eight 3-pointers against South Florida are tied for the fourth most in a single game in school history.


ORTIZ PLAYING TO HER STRENGTHS

• The transition from moving to off the ball from point guard seems to be paying off for senior Gabbi Ortiz. Ortiz is averaging a career-best 15.4 points a game, while shooting .442 from beyond the arc. The Racine, Wis., native ranks fifth in school history with 169 career triples and needs just six more treys to pass Etta Maytubby (170, 1993-96) for fourth in the program's record book.

• Against South Florida, Ortiz had a career day by scoring 31 points on 9-of-14 shooting and knocking down a career-best eight 3-pointers. Ortiz's 31 points were also a career high, smashing her previous career high of 22 points against UTSA in 2015.

• The senior followed up performance against USF with another strong outing versus New Mexico, scoring 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting, while burying seven treys. She became the first Sooner to score 25 points in back-to-back games since Aaryn Ellenberg accomplished the feat in 2014.

• Ortiz also leads the Big 12 in minutes played per game (36.9), free throw percentage (.957) and 3-pointers made per game (3.8). The senior is seventh in the nation with 38 made 3-pointers.


ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE MYSELF

• OU’s freshmen trio of Ana Llanusa, Shaina Pellington and Mandy Simpson have excelled in the Sooners' first 10 games. Llanusa, who has scored in double figures seven times this season, enjoyed a breakout performance against New Mexico by scoring 27 points on 9-of-22 shooting, which is tied for tenth on OU's freshmen single-game scoring list.

• Llanusa's 27 points were the most by an OU freshman in a non-conference game since Aaryn Ellenberg scored 31 at Ohio State in 2010.

• Pellington, the fourth Canadian to play for the Sooners, is tied for third on the team in scoring with 12.8 points per game and is shooting .505 from the field. Pellngton has shined in OU's five road games, averaging 14.0 points per game and shooting .549 from the field. In just her second collegiate game, Pellington recorded 23 points on the road on Nov. 13 at DePaul.

• Simpson has provided the Sooners with a consistent rebounder in her first season at OU. The Boise, Idaho, native pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds in Saturday's victory over New Mexico. Simpson started the first eight games of the seasons and became just the 10th true freshman to start a season opener under Sherri Coale.

• Against Belmont, Simpson filled the stat sheet with 12 points, five rebounds and three steals in OU's 96-73 victory to earn Big 12 Freshman of the Week honors.


QUICK HITS

• Oklahoma is 37-20 all-time against current members of the American Athletic Conference. The Huskies will be the third AAC team the Sooners have played this season. OU defeated SMU, 87-82, on Nov. 17, before toppng then No. 16 South Florida, 79-74, on Dec. 9.

• The Sooners tied the program record for 3-point field goal attempts in a single game against New Mexico, taking 38 shots from deep. OU knocked down 15 treys in the victory, which is tied for the second most in a single game in program history.

• OU's 36 points scored in the third quarter against New Mexico set a program record for most points in a quarter. The 42-point win was OU's largest margin of victory since Nov. 21, 2014, against Bradley, 104-55.

• The Sooners' victory over South Florida on Dec. 9 gave OU its first win as unranked team over a ranked non-conference opponent on its home floor in school history. It marked the first time the Sooners have defeated a ranked non-conference foe since 2013 when OU topped No. 25 Gonzaga inside Lloyd Noble Center.

• Gabbi Ortiz's run of consecutive made free throws came to an end against South Florida. Ortiz's streak ended at 37, which ranks second all-time at OU, after missing her second attempt of the game at foul line against the Bulls. LaNeisha Caufield's streak of 38 consecutive free throws made during the 2001-02 season is the program record.

• Oklahoma’s non-conference schedule includes matchups against five NCAA Tournament teams from last season (Belmont, DePaul, Oregon, UConn and South Florida). Nine of the Sooners' 11 non-conference opponents made postseason appearances last year.

• OU reached the 20-win plateau for the 12th time in the last 13 seasons under head coach Sherri Coale a year ago. The Sooners have won at least 20 games 15 times during Coale's tenture.


UP NEXT

The Sooners open Big 12 play against No. 8/8 Texas on Dec. 28 inside Lloyd Noble Center at 7 p.m. CT. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. OU has won the last six meetings against the Longhorns in Norman, taking last year's matchup, 74-73.

For more information on Oklahoma women’s basketball, follow the Sooners on Twitter (@OU_WBBall) or like Oklahoma Sooners Women’s Basketball on Facebook.