ORU looks for late-season surge to earn tournament bye
BY KEVIN HENRY World Correspondent
Thursday, February 14, 2013
2/14/13 at 7:06 AM
After dropping a pair of Southland Conference road games, there is a sense of urgency in the voice of Oral Roberts head coach Scott Sutton. He knows the calendar very well, and he knows that if his Golden Eagles are going to put together a run to build momentum for the postseason, the time is now.
"It's important that we get on a roll now," Sutton said. "We have four straight games at home and then we go on the road to play three teams that are in the bottom half of our division. We know it's important for us to finish in the top two of the league so we can have that automatic bye to the semifinals of the Southland Conference tournament."
The first step toward securing that automatic bye comes Thursday night inside the Mabee Center when ORU opens its four-game homestand against Sam Houston State. Sitting at 14-10 overall and 9-3 in league play, the Golden Eagles enter Thursday's action in third place in the Southland standings, just one game back of Northwestern State (La.).
"We really haven't played great basketball the last month or so," Sutton said. "We have to find a way to be more consistent on both ends of the floor. To win championships, you have to be solid on both ends. We still need our offense and defense to come together."
ORU will go into the homestand without the services of starter Shawn Glover, who has been the team's high scorer in three of the last five games and is averaging 14.1 points per outing. Glover sustained an injury to his left eye in Saturday's loss at Stephen F. Austin and is expected to miss the next two games.
"It's a big blow to us because he has been playing so well," Sutton said. "Along with Damen Bell-Holter and Warren Niles, Shawn has been about as consistent of a player as we have had. His size and speed causes a lot of matchup problems for opponents, so we will definitely miss him."
While ORU may lose Glover, Sutton is hopeful that Steven Roundtree can return from knee and ankle injuries and see significant playing time. Roundtree has missed 10 of ORU's 12 Southland Conference games with the injuries, suffered before the nonconference finale at Memphis.
"Without Shawn in the lineup, guys are going to have to step up," Sutton said. "We're hoping Roundtree can shake off the rust and play significant minutes. The last time we played Sam Houston State (a 65-61 overtime road win on Jan. 19), Korey Billbury had his best game of the year (16 points and eight rebounds). There have been nights this season where D.J. Jackson has stepped up. We're going to have to find ways to get some of that scoring back and we're going to have to play solid defense night in and night out."
Sam Houston at ORU
SHSU (13-10, 6-5 Southland)
|Ht. ||Pt.|| Reb.|
|G ||Gatson|| 5-11|| 8.8 ||3.2|
|G ||McKinney ||6-3 ||6.7|| 2.9|
|F ||Thomas ||6-5 ||7.3|| 5.0|
|G|| Baxter ||6-1|| 7.0 ||2.3|
|F ||Motley ||6-7|| 7.1 ||5.7|
ORU (14-10, 9-3)
|Ht. ||Pt.|| Reb.|
|G ||Manghum|| 6-2 ||2.7 ||1.3|
|F ||Conley|| 6-5 ||2.8|| 2.9|
|C ||Bell-Holter|| 6-9|| 16.1|| 9.5|
|G|| Billbury ||6-2|| 5.4 ||2.5*|
|G ||Niles ||6-5|| 18.8 ||4.4|
*assists per game
Original Print Headline: ORU looks for surge to earn bye
Vs. Sam Houston State
7:30 p.m. Thursday
Radio: KYAL am1550
ORU's Shawn Glover is expected to miss the next two games after sustaining an injury to his left eye. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World