NCAA Preview: Ready to Dance

Oklahoma and Southeast Missouri will tip-off at 11 a.m. Saturday morning in Austin. Courtney Paris (pictured) and the Sooners enter the game on an 8-game winning streak, while the Redhawks are riding a 9-game streak. See inside for more pregame news and notes, including quotes from Sherri Coale on the matchup. (AP Photo)

The Teams
#9 Oklahoma (26-4) vs. Southeast Missouri (24-7) -- 11 a.m. -- Erwin Center (16,755) -- Austin, Texas

Radio/Television
Saturday's game will be televised on ESPN2. Dave Barnett (play-by-play), Van Chancellor (analyst) and Holly Rowe (sideline) will call the action. The game can also be heard on the radio on KOKC 1520 AM.

Radio Broadcast Info | Live Stats

The Matchup
Oklahoma is making their 8th-straight and 10th all-time NCAA Tournament appareance, while Southeast Missouri is in the dance for just the second-straight year. Both teams also come into the game on winning steaks. The 3rd-seeded Sooners have won eight in a row, while the 14th-seeded Redhawks are on a nine-game streak.

The Redhawks earned an automatic berth by beating Murray State, 62-60, in the Ohio Valley Conference. They were 16-4 in conference play and shared three common opponents this season with the Sooners — Eastern Kentucky, Baylor and Tusla. They were 2-2 against the trio, while the Sooners were a perfect 5-0. SEMO lost to Baylor (81-47 in Waco), Tulsa (67-54 in Tulsa) and beat Eastern Kentucky (64-62 on the road and 73-72 at home). The Sooners beat Eastern Kentucky (92-79 in Hawaii), Tulsa ( 72-49 in Tulsa), and Baylor (76-63, 88-61 and 78-64).

Saturday's matchup will also present a first in NCAA history, as the game will feature Southeast Missouri's Lachelle Lyles, who leads the nation in rebounding (17.2), and OU's Courtney Paris, who is second in rebounding (16.2). It's a matchup of the highest combinded rebounding average between two players in the history of the NCAA.

The winner of Saturday morning's game will face the winner of the Marquette-La. Lafayette game on Monday night in Austin.

The Sooners, who are 14-9 overall in NCAA Tournament play and 12-7 under Sherri Coale, lead the all-time series against the Redhawks 3-0 with the last meeting resulting in an 84-62 OU win in the 2004-05 season.

OU Game Notes | SE Missouri Game Notes | ESPN on SE Missouri

Sherri Coale on OU's NCAA draw...
"It is what it is. I don't want to waste a single second of energy on things I can't control. Right now our focus is on Southeast Missouri State and we'll take them one at a time. That's what everybody has to do. If you want to advance in this thing you've got to take them one at a time.

Coale on Southeast Missouri...
"They're athletic and they get out and get after you. They can put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. They have the nation's No. 1 rebounder in Lachelle Lyles. So we'll have to block her out, but they'll also have to block out Courtney and they'll contend with our size on the interior. They don't appear to be as big as we are. That's one of those things that's tough to ascertain on film sometimes. But they'll come out and get after you. That's obvious."

"We've played this team. We haven't played them this year, but in the last couple of years we've had a series with them and they compete. They get after you and play great defense. They put the ball on the floor and attack the basket. They play with great confidence offensively and I think their shooters shoot. That's the one thing watching film — their 3-point shooters just shoot with great confident. If you have a kid like Lyles, who is going to get most of the rebounds, that happens. We've experienced some of that with Courtney on our squad.

"So we're facing a formidable opponent this game. Just as when we went to the Big 12 tournament finals against Iowa State, you have to be ready to play."

Cole on the Lyles-Paris matchup
"I'm more interested in the Oklahoma-Southeast Missouri matchup, but I think it adds a nice subplot to this thing. Obviously, you don't post numbers like that unless you have a nose for the basketball. She's a great instinctual rebounder, just like Courtney, so it should be an interesting game."

Coale on if her Sooners are peaking...
"We think we're playing really well. I've been so pleased, not just the fact that we're stirring together several wins in a row, but the different ways that we've done it. We've done it pounding the ball in the block, we've done it shooting the ball from the perimeter, we've done it with the starting five and we've done it with guys coming off the bench. I think the play of Ashley and Kendra and Chelsi, those guys coming off the bench and making such significant impacts in various games makes us really good with the pieces and parts that we have. We have a lot of weapons and a lot of potential weapons, and I think that's an outgrowth of the tough February that we had."

Coale on the advantage of playing in Austin...
"I hope so because it's in Big 12 country. We felt like if we could land somewhere in the footprint of the Big 12 we would not only have our fans, which have proven that they'll travel furiously wherever we are, but maybe we'll pick up other Big 12 fans that will cheer for us. Hopefully that's the case in Austin. I can't imagine that it wouldn't be."

Oklahoma Projected Starters :
G -- 11 --Jenna Plumley -- 5-4, Fr. -- 4.8 ppg, 1.4 rpg
G -- 34 --Erin Higgins -- 5-9, Sr. -- 4.8 ppg, 1.4 rbg
F -- 21 -- Amanda Thompson -- 6-1, Fr. -- 5.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg
F -- 24 --Leah Rush -- 6-1, Sr. -- 9.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg
C -- 3 -- Courtney Paris -- 6-4, So. -- 23.0 ppg, 16.0 rpg, 3.6 bpg

More on the Sooners
Schedule/Results | Roster | Stats

SE Missouri Projected Starters:
G -- 12 -- Tarina Nixon -- 5-6, So. -- 11.1 ppg, 2.9
G -- 14 -- Sonya Daugherty --5-7 So. --13.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg
F -- 1 -- Ashley Lovelady -- 5-7, Jr. -- 10.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg
F --15 -- Missy Whitney -- 6-2, Jr. -- 13.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg
C-- 25 -- Lachelle Lyles -- 6-2, Sr. -- 8.5 ppg, 17.2 rpg

More on the Redhawks
Schedule/Results | Roster | Stats


Sooners Illustrated Top Stories