Oral Roberts (19-15) at S-M-U (17-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 16th, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Moody Coliseum (8,998) -- Dallas, Texas. Television: FCS. CIT Record: ORU 0-0, SMU 0-0. Series Record: SMU leads, 6-1.
GAME NOTES: For the first time since 2000 the Mustangs of SMU will take part in postseason action when they host the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
The last time these two schools collided on the hardwood, the Golden Eagles grabbed a 75-63 victory over SMU. However, the Mustangs won the first six meetings in the series, and are a perfect 3-0 at home against Oral Roberts.
Recently the Golden Eagles have been no strangers to the postseason, making five appearances over the last seven years. However, this will be their first showing in the CIT. This is the 13th overall postseason invitation for Oral Roberts, which went to three straight NCAA Tournaments from 2006 to 2008. This year's squad finished second in the regular season of the Summit League and in the conference's tournament. Overall the Golden Eagles finished with 19 wins, which was good enough for a spot in the CIT.
As for the Mustangs, they have not made a postseason event since participating in the 2000 NIT, and the team has not claimed a postseason victory since defeating Notre Dame in the 1988 NCAA Tournament. Overall this is the 14th showing for the Mustangs in the postseason and their record in these events is 10-15. SMU is fortunate to be making another postseason appearance after losing five of its last six matchups. Despite the late season struggles, the team still finished with 17 overall victories.
Producing at the offensive end of the floor was not the problem for the Golden Eagles this season, as they soared in that aspect of the game, averaging 75.2 points per contest, behind a strong 47.7 percent shooting effort. However, where ORU fell short was on defense and that was evident in the team's most recent loss, as the Golden Eagles surrendered 90 points to Oakland. If Oral Roberts can somehow mask their ineffectiveness in that area, they could cause damage because the team possesses four double-figure scorers beginning with Dominique Morrison. Morrison, who shot an outstanding 51.2 percent on the season led the Golden Eagles with 19.4 ppg. Warren Niles helped out with 14.4 ppg, but the team's best all-around player could have been Damen Bell-Holter. Bell-Holter posted 13.4 ppg on the season, but his 7.9 rpg and 49 blocks led the team, proving the big man can produce at both ends of the floor. He is joined in the paint by Steven Roundtree, who gives the Golden Eagles a solid one-two punch down low. Roundtree posted 12.3 ppg on the year and also collected 6.5 rpg, but a major issue with the forward was his inability to stay out of foul trouble, as he fouled out 11 times this season.
As for the Mustangs, they rely more on their play defensively, as they limited the opposition to an impressive 61.5 ppg. However, the Mustangs did not have much going for them in terms of offensive production, as the team posted just 65.3 ppg. At that end of the floor, SMU lived by the three-point basket, draining a team-record 253 treys on the season. Papa Dia did very little in way of helping the team achieve that record, but the big man was still very important to SMU's success, as Dia led the squad with 18.6 ppg, 9.2 rpg and 68 blocks. One of the players that is a dangerous threat from behind the arc is Robert Nyakundi, who connected on a team-best 89 three-pointers, while finishing the season with a 48.4 percent showing from long range. Nyakundi was the only other player in double figures for SMU, netting 14.8 ppg.
SMU is defensive-minded, but the Mustangs will need to find a way to produce offensively, because the Golden Eagles are explosive and will score points. SMU might be home, but look for Oral Roberts to steal a win in Moody Coliseum.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oral Roberts 74, SMU 71
03/16 10:34:30 ET