S.F. Austin hands ORU loss
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Sunday, January 13, 2013
1/13/13 at 7:13 AM
ORU notebook: More toughness needed
John Klein: Stephen F. Austin gives ORU a reality check in Southland showdown
Stephen F. Austin - solid in virtually every statistical category that counts - is the epitome of the team that doesn't beat itself.
In order for the Lumberjacks to lose, somebody is going to have to (easier said than done) beat them.
Oral Roberts wasn't up to the task.
In a battle of programs picked to finish in the top two of the Southland Conference, Stephen F. Austin showed why it is the nation's top defensive team and flummoxed preseason favorite ORU 61-50 Saturday night.
The Lumberjacks won a ninth consecutive game, improved to 14-1 and left the Mabee Center alone at the top of the Southland standings with a 5-0 league record.
A victory would have given ORU (8-8, 3-1) sole possession of the conference lead.
Instead, the Golden Eagles' 17-game winning streak in conference home games came to an end.
"We got beat by a very good basketball team, a team that is playing with a tremendous amount of confidence and is extremely well-coached," ORU coach Scott Sutton said.
"They've got tough, tough kids. Smart kids. And the bottom line is we didn't match their toughness tonight. We have six weeks to figure out how to get our guys a little bit toughened up and I have a lot of respect for how (the Lumberjacks) play the game and how they coach the game. I give them all the credit in the world. But our guys, again, bottom line, didn't match their toughness."
Stephen F. Austin coach Danny Kaspar perhaps has constructed the nation's most fundamentally sound mid-major hoops squad.
Aside from allowing the fewest points per game in Division I, his Lumberjacks rank 28th nationally in field goal percentage, 15th in rebounding margin, 12th in assists, 24th in assist-to-turnover ratio, ninth in steals and seventh in turnover margin.
And then there's this: The Lumberjacks are able to play constrictor defense without fouling, ranking 16th in fewest fouls per game and committing only three first-half fouls while holding ORU to 38.5 shooting before halftime.
Sutton continued to praise the way Stephen F. Austin does business, but he said his team (which finished with a .375 shooting percentage) did a poor job of being patient and getting the ball inside.
When the Golden Eagles managed to get the ball inside, Sutton said they did a poor job of finishing shots. And he suggested it's all tied into showing not-enough-toughness under duress.
You don't want to play catch-up against a team that has held 47 consecutive opponents under 70 points, but ORU started the game 3-of-7 from the field, scored six points in the first 11 minutes and trailed by 12 points with seven minutes left in the first half.
The Golden Eagles got as close as four, but the Lumberjacks bled the margin back to 15, sometimes burning a significant chunk of the shot clock before cashing a basket.
Redshirt freshman point guard D.J. Jackson, who led ORU with 13 points, said it's hard to come back on a team like that. He said Stephen F. Austin players made "incredible" shots with the clock winding down.
ORU completed its first - and biggest - league homestand of the season with a split of two games.
Sutton said the Golden Eagles and this week's opponents (Northwestern State and Stephen F. Austin) appear to be the teams with the best chance of winning the conference. Losing to one of them at home complicates the task of winning the league. He said ORU will get to play both of them on the road later this season, but "you certainly can't afford to stub your toe again and lose a game you shouldn't."
Jimmie Tramel 918-581-8389
ORU's D.J. Jackson brings the ball up the floor during Saturday's game against Stephen F. Austin. JOEY JOHNSON/For the Tulsa World