Jenni Carlson

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How high can Sooners surge?

by Jenni Carlson Published: January 26, 2009

The gals wearing burnt orange walked into the postgame press conference looking glassy-eyed.

A 20-point loss tends to have that effect, but there was something different in those looks after what the Oklahoma women’s basketball team did to Texas on Sunday afternoon. Sure, the Longhorns knew they were facing a good team. Sure, they knew the task of winning in Norman was a big one.

But you could tell — they had no idea just how good the Sooners are.

And we’re starting to see that these Sooners are very, very good.

They have emerged as the clear favorite in the Big 12, though a tough road game at Baylor looms later this week. But if OU wins in Waco, then on Saturday against Missouri, it will set up a game with monster ramifications.

Tennessee comes to town next Monday.

The Volunteers are the gold standard in women’s college basketball. They have championships. They have prestige. They have the best coach in the game. They are the program by which every other one is measured.

Sure, this season, Connecticut is in a class by itself, but even the Huskies have to measure themselves against the Vols.

The Sooners will have a chance to do the same next week. OU has played Tennessee three times, all coming since 2003 and the Sherri Coale-led resurgence of the program. The Vols have won all three games, and they’ve won by an average of 15 points. Had it not been for a three-point game last season, the average margin would’ve been much, much bigger.

The Sooners should change their losing ways this time around. OU is better than Tennessee. The rankings say so. The eye test says so. The Vols are rebuilding after losing Candace Parker and a talented senior class. The Sooners have Courtney Paris and a talented senior class now.

Beat the Vols, and the Sooners will signal that they’re not only the favorite in the Big 12 but also a favorite for the Final Four.

Beat the Vols badly, and the Sooners might just signal that they are the challenger for Connecticut, the team everyone is shooting to beat but is struggling to keep within 20 points.

If that happens, it’ll be the gals in the Tennessee orange who will be looking all glassy-eyed.

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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