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TCU women don’t view their consecutive Top 25 wins as upsets

January 18, 2018

In this Jan. 10 2018, photo, TCU forward Amy Okonkwo (00) celebrates after blocking a shot as Texas guard Lashann Higgs (10) watches during an NCAA college basketball game in Fort Worth, Texas. After the TCU women had pulled off what many would consider a huge upset over Top 10 team Texas, top scorer Okonkwo and the Horned Frogs went back to work and did it again. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — After the TCU women pulled off what many considered a huge upset over Texas, top scorer Amy Okonkwo and the Horned Frogs quickly followed that up with another big win.

“We enjoyed that game for what it was and then right back to work, and business as usual,” fourth-year coach Raegan Pebley said. “Bought into and reinforced our routine and preparation. ... Following it up with a win was really, really special.”

Three days after that 79-77 home win over then-No. 7 Texas for their first victory over a top 10 team in more than eight years, the Frogs (12-5, 3-3 Big 12) overcame an 18-point deficit in the third quarter Saturday at then-No. 15 West Virginia and won 76-74 in overtime. It was the program’s first win ever in Morgantown.

“It meant a lot just because we prepared and we worked so hard for those wins,” said Okonkwo, a junior who leads TCU in scoring without starting a game. “People call it upsets, but we prepared for those wins. ... We showed what we’re capable of. I don’t think we’re even at our best yet, so that’s just a little glimpse.”

The Frogs are in the top half of the Big 12 standings with a three-game winning streak going into their home game Saturday against Kansas, which beat them 86-77 three weeks ago. It is their first game since those back-to-back wins over Top 25 teams to match a feat they had accomplished only once before — on consecutive days in November 2004 win wins over No. 3 Georgia and No. 13 Michigan State at a tournament in Hawaii.

“There’s a difference between having faith in something sometimes when you can’t see it, and believing it because now you’ve seen it, you’ve experienced it, you’ve felt it, you know the difference,” Pebley said. “I think something these last few games has given our team is more of a belief, and it’s validated their faith in what they had and what they have been working toward.”

Okonkwo had 16 points and 12 rebounds against West Virginia. Her layup with 3.2 seconds left in regulation forced overtime, and she made the game-winning 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds left in overtime.

Playing her second season at TCU since transferring from Southern California, Okonkwo is seventh in the Big 12 with 16.8 points while playing less than 21 minutes a game.

“She’s incredibly efficient. Everything about Amy is efficient. Her life off the floor, her practice habits, her weight room habits,” Pebley said. “She’s a magnet to the ball.”

Okonkwo also was among 15 student-athletes to join representatives from each of the 65 schools in the Power Five conferences at a meeting in Indianapolis on Thursday and Friday. They considered proposals as part of the autonomy governance process that gives the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC the ability to enact NCAA rule changes in specific legislative areas.

TCU brings Okonkwo off the bench to make sure one of its top scorers is always in the game. Jordan Moore (14.7 points per game) has started all 17 games and plays about 24 minutes a game, sometimes on the floor with Okonkwo.

“Takes a special person to be able to do that, to really have that attitude of whatever you need, I’ll do it,” Pebley said. “I think she has embraced it.”

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