NORMAN — The attention will largely be on Connecticut on Monday evening inside Lloyd Noble Center. That is what happens virtually everywhere the nation's premier women's basketball program goes.
Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale, though, will have her eyes fixed elsewhere. She's more interested in what's happening with the Sooners than with the always-talented Huskies.
“This one on Monday is all about us,” Coale said just after Saturday's closer-than-expected victory against Missouri. “Connecticut will do what Connecticut does. They will be well prepared. They will fight and they will play hard and execute. That is who Connecticut is, that is what they will do.
“We want to figure out who we are. What do we do?”
Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. on the OU campus. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
Learning often comes when playing against the best. The Sooners (16-7, 8-4 Big 12) have already tangled twice with college basketball's top tier this season. OU lost to No. 1 Baylor by 31 at home and, a week ago, by 27 on the road.
The goal Monday night for the Sooners, of course, is a far more competitive game.
“I just want us to lose ourselves in the game,” junior guard Whitney Hand said. “I want it to be a story of us fighting really hard together and having fun and not playing scared.
“I really want it to be a dogfight. I want our team to show up and to be tough enough to take it and give it back.”
Coale said recent shooting woes have been “incredibly frustrating.” The Sooners hit 3 of 12 3-pointers — and 38 percent of their shots — in Saturday's four-point win against Missouri, the worst team in the Big 12.
“We're getting good shots, we're getting wide-open looks,” Coale said. “After a while, when you're missing and missing, it takes your energy.”
That had better not be the case against UConn. Perhaps the nationally televised home game will put spring in the Sooners' legs.
These might not be Rebecca Lobo or Maya Moore's Huskies, but it's not as if UConn ever falls off that far.
It is currently 23-2, 11-1 in the Big East. Its two losses came at No. 1 Baylor and at No. 2 Notre Dame (in overtime). The Huskies obliterated ranked Georgetown 80-38 on Saturday for their 99th consecutive home victory.
With 15.6 points a game, Tiffany Hayes leads four scorers averaging double figures. They have held opponents to 29.6 percent shooting from the field.
“We are excited about the opportunity,” Coale said. “Our RPI and strength of schedule is already floating to the very top of the bucket and it is not going to go anywhere but up on Monday night.
“Those are the situations that you put yourself in to grow.”
Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Connecticut
When: 8 p.m. Monday
Where: Lloyd Noble Center, Norman
TV: ESPN2 (Cox 28)
Radio: KOKC-AM 1520, KREF-AM 1400
Three things to know
*It will be the Sooners' sixth annual Pack the Place Pink night to support the fight against women's cancers. All fans will receive a free pink T-shirt, and there will be an online auction of game-used items on SoonerSports.com.
*Connecticut's only losses have come to Baylor in Waco and in overtime at Notre Dame.
*The Sooners have not beaten the Huskies in nine tries.
Oklahoma (16-7, 8-4 Big 12)
Pos., Player, Ht., Cl., Pts., Reb.
G, Morgan Hook, 5-10, So., 10.6, 4.1*
G, Aaryn Ellenberg, 5-7, So., 15.3, 2.9
G, Whitney Hand, 6-1, Jr., 12.6, 6.6
F, Joanna McFarland, 6-3, Jr., 8.2, 7.9
C, Nicole Griffin, 6-6, So., 5.9, 4.0
Connecticut (23-2, 11-1 Big East)
Pos., Player, Ht., Cl., Pts., Reb.
G, Tiffany Hayes, 5-10, Sr., 15.6, 5.9
G, Caroline Doty, 5-10, Jr., 6.5, 2.1
G, Bria Hartley, 5-7, So., 14.2, 4.0
G, Kelly Faris, 5-11, Jr., 6.6, 5.0
C, Stefanie Dolson, 6-5, So., 10.2, 6.1