NORMAN — The 17th-ranked Oklahoma women are at Texas for a 12:30 p.m. tip today at Frank Erwin Arena.
It is the Red River rivalry and has the makings of a fine game. The Longhorns, under first-year coach Karen Aston, were picked to finish fifth in the Big 12 Conference and the Sooners were chosen second.
OU has been ranked all season and the Longhorns have been ranked until the latest round of polls.
But if everything points toward a tight battle, one thing separates the two teams. The Sooners (11-2, 1-0 Big 12) are in clear ascension; meanwhile, the Longhorns (7-5, 0-1) are searching.
A loser of four of five games, Texas fell to Tennessee, before topping Cornell, before losing back-to-back to Iowa and Central Michigan at the Maggie Dixon Surf ‘n’ Slam Classic in San Diego, before opening conference play with a 73-65 overtime loss at Iowa State.
OU has won three straight games, the last one a very impressive 71-68 comeback over a strong West Virginia team, yet another program that’s spent most of the season ranked.
That doesn’t make OU a heavy favorite today. The road to the Big 12 regular season championship is paved in away-from-home victories precisely because they’re so hard to get.
On the other hand, the Sooners, for all their personnel losses and the adversity that has accompanied them, have emerged in a very good place.
It began after a 76-63 loss to Vanderbilt, the first game after Whitney Hand became the fourth Sooner to be lost for the season.
“In the game after Whitney got hurt, we didn’t give it our all and it was really personal for the ones that weren’t playing,” junior point guard Morgan Hook said. “I think it really hit home to all of us. I think we’ve learned a lot and I think that we realize that every game we need to go out and play like we have to play hard or we’re not going to win.”