United ORU seeks sweep of conference road trip
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Saturday, January 05, 2013
1/05/13 at 6:22 AM
Tragedy struck the family of Oral Roberts basketball coach Scott Sutton.
His players chose to help in this manner:
"We just prayed before the game for the family and then we had to go out and play hard and compete our butts off for him and his family," ORU senior center Damen Bell-Holter said.
"And that's what we did."
Bell-Holter scored a career-high 35 points on 12-of-18 shooting and captured 14 rebounds as ORU, playing without injured starter Steven Roundtree, began its first tour of the Southland Conference with an 86-72 road victory Thursday night over Southeastern Louisiana.
A two-game road swing concludes with a 4 p.m. Saturday game at Nicholls State in Thibodaux, La.
Sutton did not join his team for the Southland Conference opener until game day, preferring to spend as much time as possible with his family. His mother, Patsy, has been hospitalized since suffering a stroke on Dec. 28.
Sutton watched his players shoot Southeastern Louisiana out of the gym. ORU hit 60 percent of its field-goal attempts and finished with the best 3-point percentage (.818) ever by a visiting team at the University Center.
"Offensively, the first half is about as well as we have played in a long, long time to score 54 points in a gym that we didn't practice in and we didn't have a shootaround in," Sutton said during a postgame radio interview.
"They had about 30 minutes before the game to shoot out here. To go 9-for-10 from 3-point range the first half was pretty remarkable."
The Golden Eagles had more than the usual reasons to be motivated. Bell-Holter said there was a lot of emotion involved "especially after the game when (Sutton) told us he appreciates us winning that game for him because of everything he is going through.
"Coach has done a lot for everyone on this team, so we felt like we needed to play for him and we're glad that he appreciated it."
The next hurdle?
Nicholls State played a brutal nonconference schedule (among opponents: Missouri, Michigan State, Vanderbilt) and is 2-9. But the Colonels started five players who are listed on the roster as guards and snapped a seven-game losing streak by beating Central Arkansas in a Southland Conference opener Thursday night. It was only the second home game of the season for Nicholls State, which improved to 2-0 at home.
There are 345 teams ranked in NCAA Division I statistics. Nicholls State ranks 340th in field-goal-percentage defense and 343rd in 3-point-percentage defense. One of Central Arkansas' best players, Connors State transfer Jarvis Garner, went 0-of-7 from 3-point range against the Colonels.
Jimmie Tramel 918-581-8389
Oral Roberts' Damen Bell-Holter fights for the ball with St. Gregory's Pud Ross during a Nov. 14 game. Bell-Holter had 35 points and 14 rebounds in ORU's win over Southeastern Louisiana on Thursday. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World