Defense lacking in ORU's win over Nicholls State
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Friday, February 01, 2013
2/01/13 at 6:57 AM
Consider the basketball players at Oral Roberts University to be warned.
If March arrives and the Golden Eagles are sitting at home watching other college teams on television, coach Scott Sutton said he will say this: "I told you so."
Or at least that's the story Sutton told the press after his team shot a season-best 62.3 percent from the field Thursday night in a 90-78 victory over Nicholls State at the Mabee Center.
What did Sutton see that put him in "I told you so" mode?
Moreso, it's what he didn't see. Defense.
ORU permitted Nicholls State - which ranks 212th nationally in scoring - to score more points and shoot a higher percentage (.544) than any previous Southland Conference opponent.
Fred Hunter, Nicholls State's burly-but-undersized post player, hit 11-of-15 field goal attempts en route to 33 points - most by any Golden Eagle opponent since IUPUI's Alex Young got 34 on Feb. 9, 2012.
So, Sutton came to a postgame press conference happy that his team kept pace with Stephen F. Austin at the top of the Southland standings, but frustrated that the Golden Eagles aren't displaying enough pride - at least on the court.
"I love my kids," Sutton said. "I think they are great kids. We will continue to win games. But to win tough games and to win games when it really matters, you have to fall back on your defense and this team has not done that."
Sutton recited numbers to back up his claim. ORU shot 69.6 percent from the field in the first half.
"And you are tied, at home," Sutton said. "It's embarrassing."
Maybe there would be less reason to be distressed if underclassmen were primarily at fault. But Sutton said he's got juniors and seniors that won't defend.
"Sooner or later they have to step up and take pride in who they are guarding and how they play and know that they are letting their teammates down if they don't do their job," he said.
"And, right now, if a guy scores on them - any of them - it's not that big of a deal, and you can't be a great defensive team until they all develop that pride."
The good news, according to Sutton, is this is the midpoint of the league season and his team still has an opportunity to develop toughness and pride.
"But time is running out," he said after the Golden Eagles won a fifth consecutive game in improving to 13-8 overall and 8-1 in conference games.
Sutton warned players they would see a different Nicholls State (6-13, 5-4) team than the one ORU handled earlier in the season. Hunter played only 15 minutes in that game because he was dealt a blow to the head and because the score got lopsided quickly.
This time, the Golden Eagles led by only six points with 6:04 remaining.
Korey Billbury hit his third 3-pointer of the season to trigger a finishing kick and Damen Bell-Holter scored ORU's next six points, finishing with 15 despite playing only 18 minutes due to foul trouble.
Offense wasn't a problem. Shawn Glover scored a career-best 25 points to lead the Golden Eagles and Warren Niles added 24.
Vs. Southeastern Louisiana
7:30 p.m. Saturday
TV: FSCA-272 (JIP 8:30 p.m.)
Radio: KYAL am1550
Original Print Headline: Defense lacking in ORU's victory
Jimmie Tramel 918-581-8389
ORU's Damen Bell-Holter shoots in the lane over Nicholls State's Fred Hunter on Thursday night at the Mabee Center. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
ORU's Korey Billbury dribbles past Nicholls State's Amin Torres at the Mabee Center on Thursday. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World