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March 31, 2013

It’s Sooners’ momentum vs. Vols’ tradition

OKLAHOMA CITY — They say tradition never goes on vacation, so maybe the Oklahoma women can’t count on being overlooked today.

Tennessee is the Yankees, Steelers and Manchester United of women’s college basketball, only better.

One year removed from the legendary reign of coach Pat Summitt and her 1,098 victories and nine national championships, longtime assistant and first-year head coach Holly Warlick has every reason to believe the Lady Vols can hang another title banner in the rafters of Thompson-Boling Arena or, at least, corral the program’s record 19th trip to the Final Four.

The Sooners have a little history of their own. Comparatively, very little.

Six days ago they played far and away their best game of the season to stop UCLA 85-72 and advance to the program’s 10th Sweet 16 and ninth since 2000. And, 50 months ago, on the same court in the same building, the Sooners stopped the Lady Vols 80-70.

It’s not much, but you take what you can get.

“That’s the beautiful thing about sports,” OU coach Sherri Coale said. “If you look hard enough, you can draw a correlation to make it feel like it’s all in your favor, no matter what.”

Mostly what the Sooners have going for them is themselves. It hasn’t been enough to create a dominant season or to challenge for a conference or conference tourney crown. The regular season, it may be hard to remember now, was a bumpy ride.

Still, it was only bumpy on the outside, on the court where they watched so many teammates suffer season-ending injuries and, also on the court, where they’d get a good thing going before being dropped by 21 points at Iowa State, by 19 at West Virginia, by 10 at Kansas, 21 at Oklahoma State and 19 again, to Iowa State at the Big 12 tournament.

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