Sooners Knock Off No. 14 Aggies

NORMAN, Okla. — The Sooners dropped a pivotal game in Ames the other night, but made up for it with a huge 64-55 victory over the 14th ranked Texas A&M Aggies Tuesday night at Lloyd Noble Center.

Guard Aaryn Ellenberg, who snapped out of her slump recently, continued her tear in the victory with a game-high 23 points, and that's a large part of the reason they were so successful in this one.

But guard Morgan Hook also proved to be crucial, netting 19 points, including an impressive 9-for-10 mark at the free throw line, and playing a full 40 minutes without a turnover.

"Compared to how I played the first time we played them, it was great," Hook said. "I just came in with a chip on my shoulder and just it was embarrassing watching film from the first time we played them. And I wasn't going to let that happen again."

Though Ellenberg led all scorers, head coach Sherri Coale made sure to single out her point guard as the player of the game for that reason.

"I know you guys will ask about it, but the MVP is right here," Coale said. "How much has Morgan Hook grown up between the first time we played A&M and tonight? Looked like a completely different kid."

Not to be left behind, either, was guard Whitney Hand.

The 6-foot-1, redshirt junior eclipsed the 1,000 point plateau of her career on this night, the 26th such Sooner to do so, by posting 11 in the contest.

"I didn't even know that," Hand said. "You know, I was not aware until that happened and I was like, 'Don't--it's okay. Like, we're playing a game.' So yeah, I mean, it's obviously an honor and it's a distinct group of people to be in with, and I think, I mean, it's just fun. And it's nice, but you know, I don't know if I ever really even thought about it before it happened."

As all this might suggest, it proved to be a total team effort.

Outside of one long second half stretch when they went 7:40 without a basket, the Sooners were in an offensive rhythm.

They rebounded well on top of that, out-boarding the Aggies 44-35, which proved to be a huge reason why OU withstood the long drought.

"At halftime, they had 14 offensive rebounds; we only gave them five in the second half," Coale said. "That was the difference when we went on that stretch where we couldn't score."

Turnovers, 19 of them, to be exact, stood as the only problem at times, but most of those were unforced, and OU was able to overcome them.

Just two Aggies scored in double figures, including guards Sydney Carter and Tyra White, who had 12 and 11, respectively.

OU led for most of the contest and leaped out to a 33-30 halftime advantage.

It built that to a 13-point lead midway through the second half, but that's when things stalled out some.

The Sooners, who led it 46-34, then hit their rough patch, although Coale it wasn't for a lack of good offensive execution.

"I think we went seven or eight possessions that came up empty, and we got good shots, too," Coale said.

Still, the misfires allowed the Aggies to get back into the game.

In fact, they chopped the lead down to three with a 10-0 run, but that's when Ellenberg took over.

After forward Joanna McFarland scored a deuce to get OU's lead back to five, Ellenberg hit a leaning jumper from the right corner with the shot clocking expiring, then drill a three minutes later to push OU's advantage back to eight.

"I guess it's just wanting to score, wanting to help my team out," Ellenberg said. "I think that's all it really is. I mean, the shot clock's going down, there's not much time to really pass it, so call for a ball screen or something and just take a shot. I mean, I want shots like that, so I guess it just comes [naturally]."

Texas A&M came back within four but could never get over the hump.

The Sooners, 18-9 overall and 10-5 in Big 12 play, are now locked in a tie with the Aggies for second place in the standings.

They'll hit the road for a 5 p.m. Saturday contest at Texas.

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GAME NOTES:

--The win moves Oklahoma into a tie for second place in the Big 12 Standings with Texas A&M with three games to play.
--Texas A&M opponents averaged 21.1 turnovers entering the game. The Sooners had 19 Tuesday night. OU had 23 turnovers in a loss to the Aggies on Jan. 8 and seven games with 20 or more turnovers in the 13 games through the previous meeting with Texas A&M. In 14 games since, the Sooners have had just two games with 20 or more turnovers.
--OU's last win versus a ranked team was a 65-57 win at then-No. 23 Kansas State on Jan. 17. The Sooners' last win versus a ranked team at home was a 71-68 win over then-No. 10 Texas Tech on Jan. 11.
--Oklahoma is now 3-5 versus teams ranked in the AP Top 25 this season. The Sooners have an 8-8 record against the top 25 RPI.
--Oklahoma is 15-2 when leading at halftime; 16-3 when an opponent shoots 40 percent or lower; 12-2 when it attempts 20 or more free throws; 16-1 when it leads points in the paint; and 16-0 when allowing 65 points or fewer.

Whitney Hand
--She became the 26th Sooner to score 1,000 points in a career. Hand was five points shy of the milestone and scored 11 in the game.

Aaryn Ellenberg
--Following a seven-game shooting slump, Ellenberg has scored at least nine points in each of the last five halves of basketball played. Ellenberg is 20-of-43 (.465) from the field and 7-of-20 (.350) from 3-point range in her last three games.
--She is now 23 points shy of becoming the Sooners' 27th 1,000 career-point scorer. Ellenberg would be just the third Sooner to reach 1,000 career points by the end of her sophomore season.
--Hand and Ellenberg could become just the fourth duo in Sooner history to reach 1,000 career points in the same season.

Morgan Hook
--She scored 19 points, her third highest total this season, and hit a career-high nine of 10 free throw attempts.
--Hook had five assists to zero turnovers, her first such spotless game this season.

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