OU Hosts Belmont, Paris Returns to LNC
FRIDAY'S GAME BASICS
The No. 22/21 Sooners tip-off the 2017-18 season on Friday as they host Belmont at 7 p.m. CT at Lloyd Noble Center. Friday's meeting marks the first-ever matchup between the Sooners and Bruins.
ON THE AIR
Friday's game will be streamed on SoonerSports.tv with Chad McKee, Dan Hughes and Jessica Coody announcing. The contest will air on the Sooner Radio Network with Ed Murray and McKenna Treece calling the action.
Tickets are available for $5 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 Friday. OU students will be admitted free with a valid school I.D.
Fans that plan to attend Saturday's football against TCU will be able to attend Friday night's game as well for free. Fans that show their TCU ticket will be given a general admission ticket for Friday's game against Belmont.
In honor of Courtney Paris' jersey ceremony, the first 500 fans will receive a free t-shirt, the first 1,000 fans will be given a commemorative poster and the first 2,000 fans will take home a replica banner.
Paris will sign autographs from 6:15-6:45 p.m. on the south concourse of Lloyd Noble Center.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
• OU opens the regular season on Friday at 7 p.m. CT against Belmont at Lloyd Noble Center. The Sooners have won 18 out of their last 19 home openers at Lloyd Noble Center dating back to the 1999-00 season. OU is 33-7 all-time in home openers. During halftime, the Sooners will honor four-time All-American and 2007 AP Player of the Year Courtney Paris.
• OU's freshman trio of Ana Llanusa, Shaina Pellington and Mandy Simpson shined during OU's two exhibition wins. Llanusa led the Sooners in scoring in both games, averaging 21.0 points per contest. Simpson picked up 17 rebounds against Central Oklahoma, the most by an OU player in an exhibition game since 2007 (18, Courtney Paris). Pellington provided a spark off the bench and averaged 10.5 points and 5.5 assists in two games.
• The Sooners completed the 2016-17 season with a 23-10 overall record (13-5 Big 12; third place) and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament (No. 6 seed) for the 18th consecutive year. The Sooners return three starters from last year's squad: graduate student guard Maddie Manning (12.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg); senior guard Gabbi Ortiz (8.9 ppg, 3.7 apg) and senior center Vionise Pierre-Louis (11.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg).
• Oklahoma head coach Sherri Coale begins her 22nd year at the helm of the OU program. Coale has a 465-227 (.672) record at OU and has led the Sooners to three Final Four appearances, four Big 12 Tournament titles, six Big 12 regular season championships and 18 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.
• The Sooners enter the season ranked in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Poll. The Sooners check in at No. 21 in the USA Today Preseason Poll. OU is No. 22 in the Associated Press Poll. The Sooners have been ranked in the AP Poll for 39 consecutive weeks (tied for the 10th-longest active streak in the country).
PARIS RETURNS TO NORMAN
• Oklahoma welcomes back one of women's college basketball's most profilic players as Courtney Paris' No. 3 jersey will be raised to the Lloyd Noble Center rafters during a halftime ceremony.
• Paris, the first-ever four-time AP All-American and 2007 National Player of the Year, led the Sooners to the 2009 Final Four, two Big 12 Tournament titles and three Big 12 regular season championships. She became the first player regardless of gender to record 2,500 points and 2,000 rebounds for a career. Paris, OU's all-time leading scorer and rebounder, holds 20 NCAA, 57 Big 12 and 69 OU records.
Courtney Paris will be the second OU women's basketball player to have her honored at Lloyd Noble Center.
• Oklahoma won both its exhibition games prior to the start of the regular season, defeating Central Oklahoma, 86-64, and Southwestern Oklahoma State, 109-65. The Sooners posted a combined .453 shooting percentage in the wins.
• Against Central Oklahoma, OU's freshman trio led the way on the stat sheet. Ana Llanusa poured in 20 points off the bench, while Mandy Simpson logged 17 rebounds. Shaina Pellington dished a team-high six assists off the bench.
• Maddie Manning and Llanusa both scored 20-plus points as OU rolled past SWOSU. Manning scored 18 of her 20 points in the first half, while Llanusa posted 13 of her 22 points in the final frame. Vionise Pierre-Louis had a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Gabbi Ortiz (14), Pellington (12) and Ijeoma Odimgbe (10) also scored in double figures.
• Belmont is the under the direction of first-year head coach Bart Brooks. The Bruins return four starters and 10 letterwinners from last year's squad that compiled a 27-6 overall record. Belmont won the OVC Championship and earned a No. 12 seed in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
• Junior guard Darby Maggard, the Co-OVC Preseason Player of the Year, led the nation in 3-point shooting percentage last season at .487. and averaged 14.5 points per game a year ago. The Bruins also return leading scoring Kylee Smith, who averaged 15.9 points per game and scored in doubles figures in 26 of 33 contest during the 2016-17 season. Senior center Sally McCabe also scored in double figures at 12.5 points a game and led the team with 95 blocks. McCabe was recognized with CO-OVC Preseason Player of the Year honors.
OU hits the road for a top-25 matchup against No. 25 DePaul on Monday night in Chicago. In their last meeting, the Sooners and Demons set the record for the most combined points (204) in a NCAA Tournament game as DePaul topped OU, 104-100, in 2014.