Sooners Begin Big 12 Slate with No. 8 Texas
THURSDAY'S GAME BASICS
The Sooners return to action after an eight-day layoff and open Big 12 play on Thursday against No. 8/8 Texas. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. CT inside Lloyd Noble Center. The Sooners have won 12 straight Big 12 openers dating back to thee 2004-05 season. Texas enters Thursday's game ranked No. 8 in the latest AP poll and defeated No. 12/10 Florida State, 87-72, in Austin on Dec. 17 to close out its non-conference slate. OU has won the last seven meetings against the Longhorns in Norman.
ON THE AIR
Thursday's game will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma with Toby Rowland, Dan Hughes and Megan McDonald on the call. The contest will also air on the Sooner Radio Network with Brian Brinkley and McKenna Treece calling the action.
Tickets are available for $10 at the OU Athletics Ticket Office (800-456-4668) and online here. Lloyd Noble Center's north and east ticket windows will open at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. OU students will be admitted free with a valid school I.D.
Fans can purchase a ticket to OU's games against Texas, TCU and Baylor for just $10 and receive a free t-shirt. Enter the code "TSHIRT" here to purchase your seats today.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
• Oklahoma begins its 22nd season of Big 12 play as it hosts No. 8/8 Texas at Lloyd Noble Center on Thursday at 7 p.m. CT. The Sooners have won seven consecutive home meetings against the Longhorns and are 15-8 all-time against Texas in Norman. Texas leads the all-time series, 29-25.
• OU has won 12 straight Big 12 home openers and is 19-2 in its first conference opener under Sherri Coale. OU's last loss to begin its Big 12 slate came on Jan. 5, 2005, at Texas Tech (70-64). The Sooners are 225-123 all-time against Big 12 competition.
• The Sooners are 4-1 at Lloyd Noble Center this season and are averaging 85.6 points per game on its home floor. At home, OU is shooting .447 from the field, .361 from deep and .686 at the foul line. Senior guard Gabbi Ortiz is averaging a team-high 17.2 points per game in five home contests this season.
• OU's freshmen duo of Ana Llanusa and Shaina Pellington are two of the top three scorers among Big 12 freshmen so far this season. Llanusa is second among Big 12 freshmen at 12.4 points per game, while Pellington is third at 11.9 points a contest. Llanusa scored a career-high 27 points against New Mexico on Dec. 16, which is tied for the 10th-most by an OU freshman in a single game in program history. Pellington has six double-digit scoring performances this season.
• 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 facing No. 1/1 UConn on Dec. 19, the Sooners are third in the country in strength of schedule according to RealTimeRPI.com and are 34th in the latest RPI release by the NCAA. Texas will mark the fourth AP top-25 team that the Sooners have faced this season through 12 games.
GAME 11 RECAP: UCONN
• Oklahoma battled tough with No. 1 UConn, but came up short on the road, 88-64, in the Women's Holiday Showcase at the Mohegan Sun Arena. The Sooners trailed 48-33 at halftime, but rallied to cut the deficit down to 51-44 midway through the quarter. OU held the Huskies to just 1-of-8 shooting and forced four UConn turnovers to close the gap. A 7-0 run by the Sooners, capped off with a jumper from Shaina Pellington, forced the Huskies to take a timeout at the 4:49 mark in the third quarter.
• The Huskies closed the frame with a 13-3 run to extend their lead. The win for the Huskies gave UConn head coach Geno Auriemma his 1,000th career victory. Maddie Manning led four Sooners in double figures with 15 points, all of which came in the first half on 6-of-11 shooting in 38 minutes. Manning knocked down three triples and pulled down three rebounds, while Vionise Pierre-Louis scored 10 of her 14 points in the second half and led OU with six rebounds.
• Gabbi Ortiz finished in double figures for the fourth straight game, adding 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting. The senior hit three 3-pointers, recorded four rebounds and dished two assists. Pellington chipped in 10 points off the bench on 4-of-8 shooting. The Huskies finished 34-of-64 (.531) from the field and were 11-of-26 (.423) from deep. OU shot .403 (25-of-62) from the floor and finished 7-of-20 (.350) from beyond the arc. OU was just the second team this season (UCLA) to trail by 15 points or fewer at halftime with the Huskies in the lead.
Gabbi Ortiz is averaging 28.0 points per game over the last two games at home. The senior scored 25 points at home vs. New Mexico on Dec. 16.
• No. 8/8 Texas enters Big 12 play with a 9-1 overall record. Its only loss came on Dec. 10 at then No. 11/13 Tennessee (82-75) in Knoxville, Tenn. The Longhorns ranked second in the Big 12 and eighth in Division I in scoring offense (88.1). Texas is also third in the country in rebounding margin (+13.3) and ranks eighth nationally in rebounds per game (45.9). The Longhorns are shooting .483 from the field (third in the Big 12), .352 from 3-point range (sixth) and .685 at the free throw line (eighth).
• Senior guard Ariel Atkins leads the Longhorns and ranks 13th in the Big 12 in scoring at 14.5 points per game. Atkins is also second in the league in steals per game (2.8) and 3-point shooting percentage (.500), while ranking ninth in field goal percentage (.589).
• Reigning Big 12 Player of the Year Brooke McCarty is second on the squad with 14.0 points per game. McCarty earned Big 12 Player of the Week honors on Dec. 18 after scoring 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting against No. 12 Florida State. The senior also logged six assists in 34 minutes of action against the Seminoles.
• Texas head coach Karen Aston is 123-56 in her six seasons with the Longhorns. She served as an assistant coach at Texas from 1998-06 under former head coach Jody Conradt. Aston is 224-119 in her 11 seasons as a head coach with previous stops at Charlotte and North Texas.
• Over the last two home 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 in its last two home contests.
• The Sooners are 23-4 (.852) against Big 12 competition at Lloyd Noble Center since the 2014-15 season, which is the best second-best home winning percentage among league teams during that span.
CLOSING IN ON 1,000 POINTS
• OU's Maddie Manning, Gabbi Ortiz and Vionise Pierre-Louis are all closing in on the 1,000-point mark for their collegiate careers. Pierre-Louis has 984 points, while Manning has scored 981 at OU. Ortiz has 952 career points in 110 career played games and needs 48 points to reach the 1,000-point plateau.
• Seven players have reached the 1,000-point mark for their OU careers in the last five seasons. Those players are: Whitney Hand (2012-13), Aaryn Ellenberg (2013-14), Morgan Hook (2013-14), Nicole Griffin (2013-14) and Sharane Campbell-Olds (2014-15), Kaylon Williams (2015-16) and Peyton Little (2016-17).
• Oklahoma is 19-2 all-time in Big 12 openers and the Sooners have won their last three Big 12 home openers.
• The Sooners tied the program record for 3-point field goal attempts in a single game against New Mexico on Dec. 16, 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 included 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.
The Sooners head to Iowa State on Saturday to face the Cyclones inside Hilton Coliseum. The game will air on Cyclone.tv with tip-off set for 2 p.m. CT. OU has won the last four meetings against Iowa State.