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BYU Looks To Bounce Back In Big 12 Home Opener Against Oklahoma

Jan 2, 2024, 5:26 PM

BYU Women's Basketball, Amber Whiting, Oklahoma Preview...

BYU women's basketball hosts Oklahoma in their Big 12 home opener in Provo. (Courtesy of BYU Photo)

(Courtesy of BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – BYU women’s basketball did not ease into Big 12 play.

Last Saturday, the Cougars first-ever Big 12 game was against undefeated and nationally-ranked TCU in Ft. Worth. The transfer-laden Horned Frogs, led by 6-foot-7 Sedona Prince, jumped out to an early lead, and then BYU fought back. But TCU behind Prince’s 25 was too much.

Lessons learned in the first Big 12 game of the season

“We learned some key things in our defense, like weaknesses that we needed to work on. …We got down first right out of the game and we fought back. They didn’t quit fighting,” said BYU head coach Amber Whiting. “They could have went away in the third quarter and they kept fighting. We didn’t shoot as great as we wanted; we knew that going on the road would be hard.”

“I think it was good for us to get kind of the feel of how things are going to be and definitely very physical conference,” said BYU star and the nation’s leading rebounder Lauren Gustin. “Obviously, we didn’t get the outcome we wanted to get, right? But it was good to get kind of that feeling for what to expect.”

The TCU loss was a definite learning opportunity for BYU (10-4, 0-1 Big 12). But the good thing for Whiting’s squad is that they return home to the Marriott Center. The Cougars will host the Oklahoma Sooners (7-5, 1-0 Big 12) for their first-ever Big 12 home game on Wednesday night.

“We want our first win. Like, we just don’t want to be in the Big 12, just to be in the Big 12. We want to win in the Big 12. So for us, we’ve got to start that some time and step on the court every single time believing that we can do this and believing in each other.”

BYU women’s basketball has recent history with Oklahoma

BYU is no stranger to Oklahoma. Whiting’s program hosted the Sooners last season in the second leg of a home-and-home nonconference series between the two programs.

“We are more prepared than we ever have been to play Oklahoma,” said BYU guard Kaylee Smiler. “Now we have the talent and the skill. And now that we have the experience, it’s a new ball game.”

Oklahoma defeated BYU 77-66 last year in only the third game of Whiting’s head coaching career in Provo. BYU was up on the Sooners at the half but couldn’t get the necessary stops in the second half against an OU team that went on to claim a share of the regular season Big 12 title.

“They transition really well. They have some really good guards and they have a really good post player, but the transition is first and foremost,” said Whiting on Oklahoma. “So we’ve got to make sure we’re taking care of that because they like to push the ball and push the tempo.”

BYU Women’s Basketball vs. Oklahoma: How To Watch, Listen

Date: January 3, 2024

Location: Marriott Center

City: Provo, Utah

Tip-Off: 7 p.m. (MT)

TV: Big 12 Now on ESPN+

Radio: 107.9 FM

Projected Starters

* = Preseason All-Big 12 selection

BYU (10-4, 0-1 Big 12)

G – Amari Whiting | 5-10 | Freshman

G – Kailey Woolston | 5-11 | Freshman

G – Kaylee Smiler | 5-10 | Senior

F – Lauren Gustin | 6-1 | Senior*

F – Emma Calvert | 6-4 | Junior

Oklahoma (7-5, 1-0 Big 12)

G – Nevaeh Tot | 5-3 | Senior

G – Payton Verhulst | 6-1 | Junior

G – Lexy Keys | 5-7 | Senior

F – Skylar Vann | 6-0 | Senior*

F – Sahara Williams | 5-11 | Freshman

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU Looks To Bounce Back In Big 12 Home Opener Against Oklahoma