IOWA CITY, Iowa — Standing between Sherri Coale’s Sooners and a Sweet 16 next to Bricktown is a mustard-yellow version of Texas A&M. And Coale thinks that’s a good thing. The Oklahoma women play Georgia Tech tonight at Carver-Hawkeye Arena for a spot in the Oklahoma City Regional semifinals. The Yellow Jackets are a swarm, a collection of quick and rugged fiends who never stop reaching and clawing for the ball. A team, Coale admitted, full of Danielle Gants, the A&M rowdy who helped deliver two defeats of the Sooners in the last month. Tech has only 10 arms and 10 legs on the court at once; seemed like 50 when the ’Jackets beat Iowa on Sunday night. Which is just what it seems like when the Sooners play A&M. "Having played Texas A&M, particularly in such close proximity over the last three weeks, we think (Georgia Tech) is exactly the right team” for the Sooners to play, Coale said. OK. Glad Coale is optimistic. This game falls somewhere between gargantuan and colossal in OU women’s history. Win this game, and the Sooners get the home crowd for two games that could put Courtney Paris and Co. in the Final Four. Lose this game, and the Paris Era ends with nary a Sweet 16 win, which would rank as massive disappointment, not just in Soonerville but in all of hoops history. This game won’t be easy. Not that a second-round NCAA Tournament game is supposed to be. But in the last 10 years, No. 1 seeds are 39-1 in the second round, with an average victory margin of 19.6. Georgia Tech doesn’t look like a team headed for that kind of execution. Doesn’t look like a No. 9 seed, either. The Yellowjackets, who lead the NCAA in steals, had 10 more against Iowa. Coale said not to read too much into one game, that Iowa might win a series against Georgia Tech. But the ’Jackets looked like a team woefully underseeded by a committee that might have read too much into the loss of Alex Montgomery, Tech’s leading scorer and rebounder. Montgomery is Tech’s best outside shooter — she had more than half of Tech’s 3-pointers this season — which means the Sooners won’t give up many points tonight if they rebound. Which they usually do. But OU doesn’t always take care of the ball. In three games against A&M, including two losses, the Sooners committed 68 turnovers. That’s 23 a game. Do that tonight, and the Paris Era is over. The Sooners clearly are the better team. They are 28-4, with two losses to a No. 2 NCAA seed (A&M), one loss to a No. 3 (North Carolina) and one loss to a No. 1 (Connecticut). Tech, 22-9, has played its share of heavyweights, too. Five of its defeats are to top-three seeds in the NCAA: UConn, Maryland, Duke, North Carolina and Florida State. But the ’Jackets, even with Montgomery, have four other losses. I disagree with Coale. This is a bad matchup for OU. There won’t be anything easy about reaching the Sweet 16. Berry Tramel: 405-760-8080; Berry Tramel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.
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