ORU heads west for Pacific rematch
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Monday, November 19, 2012
11/19/12 at 3:25 AM
It's payback time for Oral Roberts University.
No. The Golden Eagles are settling a 2-year-old debt.
During the 2010-11 season, ORU played host to Pacific (and beat the Tigers 79-63) in a game arranged by ESPN for the BracketBuster series.
Participants who are awarded BracketBuster home games agree to play a return game against visiting teams in a subsequent season. That time has arrived for ORU, which will travel 1,700 miles for a Monday game at Pacific.
"It's a long way to go out there for just one game," ORU coach Scott Sutton said.
Instead of sticking a foot in the ocean and returning home, the Golden Eagles will stay out west for additional games. They'll fly from California to Alaska to compete in the Great Alaska Shootout later this week.
Sutton is a little concerned about his team perhaps getting fatigued. But taking care of two obligations with one road trip seemed like good time management.
ORU is launching the trek against an opponent whose coach is on a farewell tour. Pacific coach Bob Thomason announced in May that this season - his 25th at the school - will be his last.
Thomason is the winningest coach in Pacific and Big West Conference history, but last season the Tigers posted a losing record for only the fourth time since 1992. All five starters are back and they'll try to even an old BracketBusters score.
ORU will be a BracketBuster team again. All 10 Southland Conference members will be among 122 participants in this season's BracketBuster series. The Golden Eagles have been designated as a home team. An opponent will be chosen closer to the Feb. 22-23 Bracket- Busters weekend.
Sutton likes the event because it provides ORU with a chance to be on national TV and because it provides an opportunity for teams who aren't in "power" conferences to make an impression in a non-league game three weeks before Selection Sunday.
"Playing that game at the end of the year when people are starting to talk about bubble teams, it gives you one more game against ... a good RPI team that maybe gets you over the top," Sutton said.
"That doesn't happen at our level very often, but there are probably three or four or five teams every year where those games could be really beneficial to them."
Besides Pacific, past ORU BracketBuster opponents were Akron, Austin Peay, Creighton, Utah State, Montana and Missouri State.
"So we have had some really good games," Sutton said.
"They have tried to do a good job of matching up similar opponents as far as ability and also I think they try to keep (participants) close to the same region, but sometimes obviously that doesn't work out."
And that's why ORU's trip to the Great Alaska Shootout will include a warm-up game.
ORU at Pacific
9 p.m. Monday
Alex G. Spanos Center, Stockton, Calif.
Radio: KYAL fm97.1
Oral Roberts (1-1)
*assists per game
Original Print Headline: ORU set for Pacific rematch
Jimmie Tramel 918-581-8389