CNHI News Service
The Oklahoma women have lost four times, twice now since conference play began, and have slid to No. 21 in the latest Associated Press Top 25.
On the other hand, they’re a picture of confidence exiting an 82-65 loss at No. 1 Baylor and heading into today’s 7 p.m. tip against TCU.
Only three weeks ago, the Horned Frogs (7-11, 0-7 Big 12) played perhaps their most inspired game of the season, only to come up 85-79 losers to OU (15-4, 5-2).
The Sooners played a very good game in Fort Worth to stave off the challenge, but that’s not where their confidence is coming from tonight. That goes back to Baylor.
The presence of the college game’s most dominant player, Brittney Griner, led to OU shooting a horrible 27.8 percent (20 of 72) four days ago at Ferrell Center.
Nonetheless, Sooner coach Sherri Coale liked the way her team played and liked where more of it will take her team beginning tonight.
“Maybe you don’t beat the No. 1 team in the country, especially on their home floor. Maybe you don’t beat the No. 2 or 3 teams in the country,” she said. “But the rest of them, that stuff we did wins games. (Our players) get that. I think they understand what they were able to do against an extremely talented team.”
If OU can play with the confidence Coale’s describing, they could find themselves in a very good place in a few short weeks.
Every game is the first game of the rest of any season, but the old adage really applies to the Sooners.
After tonight, OU travels to West Virginia and Kansas State and plays host to No. 19 Oklahoma State and No. 23 Iowa State before traveling to Kansas, which is unranked but is still receiving votes in the AP poll. All presume to be difficult games. Also, each one is quite winnable.
How OU fares over the stretch will determine where it finishes in the Big 12 race. If the Sooners can win them all or all but one, they could reach their goal of finishing second, behind Baylor, in the conference race.
“We know if we win these next five games, (which) we know we’re capable of winning, it separates us from the whole pack,” junior point guard Morgan Hook said. “Right now, in second, third, fourth and fifth; all of us have two or three losses.”
“The pack,” in addition to OU, includes Texas Tech, Iowa State and Oklahoma State.
“Finishing second in the Big 12, that would set us up for the Big 12 tournament and for the NCAA tournament, with a head of steam going into it,” Hook said.
The feelings have not always been so warm and fuzzy exiting a meeting with the Lady Bears. They weren’t last season when OU fell 89-58 to Baylor at Lloyd Noble Center or after falling 81-54 in Waco.
“When you lose, there are two directions you can go, and we came away from the Baylor game, ironically, feeling confident.” Coale said. “I think it was a demeanor and an aggression and a resolve that our guys understand will win games.”
If the Sooners can win tonight, they could be on their way.
“We’re very excited about taking the floor again,” Coale said. “There’s a sense of urgency.”