NORMAN, Okla. — How good are they?
Not only does that question apply to the Oklahoma women, but to the entirety of the Big 12 Conference as all 10 programs begin league play today.
That mean’s No. 8 Texas (9-1) visiting OU (5-6) inside Lloyd Noble Center at 7 tonight.
The Sooners may be unlike any other sub-.500 team in the nation.
They’re scoring 80.5 points per game (5.6 more than their opponents), and in their last three have topped then-No. 16 South Florida 79-74, beaten previousluy unbeaten New Mexico 105-63 and played No. 1 Connecticut within 88-64 in Connecticut.
Only No. 11 UCLA (18 points) and No. 2 Notre Dame (nine) have played the Huskies any closer.
Those who haven’t include Stanford, Cal and Maryland, all top-20 teams at the time they met UConn.
It goes without saying the Sooners will have to put together a successful conference season to reach a 19th straight NCAA tournament.
This is the first campaign since the streak began OU has lost more than it won outside the conference. Still, if the Sooners find themselves on any bubble, they’re likely to get the nod.
Despite that record, they’re still carrying an official NCAA RPI of No. 34 thanks. That actually puts them in front of sixth-ranked Baylor (No. 37) and two-loss TCU (No. 71), two-loss Oklahoma State (No. 80) and two-loss Kansas (No. 81).
Only Texas (No 10) and ninth-ranked West Virginia (No. 14) carry higher RPIs among Big 12 teams than OU.
All of which makes tonight a huge opportunity. The Longhorns are highly-ranked, carry a high RPI and may just be a team OU can beat.
The Longhorns have beaten just one current top-25 team, yet it was their last time out, an 87-72 setback of No. 13 Florida State.
OU has only recently found itself, and a victory tonight could propel it forward.
“I think it helps us for the rest of the season,” coach Sherri Coale said of standing up to No. 1 UConn.
The rest of the season begins now.
Horning is sports editor of The Norman Transcript.