OU looking to wrap up perfect Big 12 season
NORMAN, Okla. -- By the time her first practice with Courtney Paris was over, Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale already knew exactly how to push the highly touted freshman's buttons.
If she wanted to see Paris at her very best, all Coale had to do was give her a challenge and tell her she couldn't do it.
There's been little that Paris hasn't been able to do in her first year of college. She has reeled off a string of 21 straight double-doubles to lead all Division I players. More importantly, the ninth-ranked Sooners (25-4) are off to the first 15-0 start in Big 12 history and look to become the league's first team to run the conference table tonight at Texas Tech.
It won't be easy. The United Spirit Arena is expected to be packed -- a sellout crowd of 15,000 fans -- as Lady Raiders fans honor legendary coach Marsha Sharp, who will be coaching her final regular season game in Lubbock after 24 hours. And Texas Tech, largely regarded as a bubble team for the NCAA Tournament, is feeling the pressure. Plus, the Lady Raiders are 7-0 at home in league play.
Paris, however, is the type of player who believes she can do anything she puts her mind to, and isn't surprised at the Sooners' impressive Big 12 run.
"I'm not a loser. I'm not used to losing,'' said Paris, the national high school player of the year last year at Piedmont High School near Oakland, Calif. "I don't like to lose and I feel like we have a really good team. If we're playing well, we don't have to lose.''
With Paris at the helm, the Sooners have done little of that lately. They've won 13 straight games -- the sixth-longest streak in the nation -- and have an average margin of victory of 16.3 points in Big 12 play.
The 6-foot-3 center enters this week leading the nation with 14.9 rebounds per game and in the top 10 in scoring (21.0) and blocks (3.1). She's the only player in the top 10 in all three categories.
"I'm a confident player, and definitely I don't try to be arrogant. It's confidence,'' Paris said. "When I've got a jersey on and I'm out there with my team, I feel a little bit invincible.''
OU beat Texas Tech 63-57 when they last met Jan. 18. Paris led the way with 17 points and 19 rebounds, but her defense will be especially important this time around, especially around LaToya Davis. The Tech junior -- who joins Paris as the only two players averaging a double-double in Big 12 play -- ranks fourth in the league at 18.9 points per game. Paris and her low post mate, Leah Rush, are combining to average 31.3 points this season and have pulled down 23 boards per game over the last three contests.
Texas Tech, which shot just 29.7 percent from the floor on Jan. 18, leads the all-time series 21-11 and is 12-3 against OU in Lubbock. OU lost in Lubbock in 2005, but won in Lady Raider territory in 2004, 2002 and 2001.