The Mabee Center on the campus of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is an interesting looking building. Its shiny gold walls and post-modern futuristic architecture is a staple of the religious university founded by evangelist Oral Roberts. The building was once the premier concert venue in the Tulsa area, hosting musical artists such as Garth Brooks, Kenny Rogers, Billy Joel, and even Elvis. But now with the recent construction of the BOK Center in downtown Tulsa, the Mabee Center mostly just serves as the home of the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles.
On this night, the Golden Eagles are facing the Governors of Austin Peay State University from Clarksville, Tennessee. The Mabee Center is listed as having around 11,000 seats, but as I make my way to my seat, the building doesn't appear to hold that many people. It's a fairly cozy arena and for 11,000 seats there isn't a bad one in the house.
I arrive in time to see the teams retake the floor for the second half of their warm-ups. The Golden Eagles enter under the watch of a giant inflatable version of Eli the Golden Eagle with the assistance of the cheerleaders, dance squad, and a very spirited part of the student section.
As the game tips off, I noticed that the small but spirited part of the student section has moved to their seats on one "corner" of the arena. (The Mabee Center has a round seating format so you can't really call it a corner.) ORU starts the game off ice cold while trying to work an inside-out game looking to capitalize on their size advantage over Austin Peay with stars 6 foot 9 big man Steven Roundtree and 6 foot 6 swing man Dominique Morrison. However, Austin Peay opens up a 6-0 lead at the under 16 timeout thanks to lightning quick veteran guards Jerome Clyburn and Tyshwan Edmonson slicing in to the lane for floaters and lay-ins.
ORU finally gets on the board after the timeout with a nice backside put back by Michael Craion. ORU manages to cut the lead to 1 by the under 8 timeout thanks to the hard work by Craion on both ends of the floor as he puts up 8 points and grabs 6 rebounds in the first half.
The timeout entertainment at the under 8 was one of the more entertaining and creative things I've seen at any basketball game. ORU had a volleyball challenge between two adjacent sections. With a makeshift net held in the stairway between the two sections, the fans of each section tried to hit the beach ball back to the other section. After 30 seconds, the section that didn't have the ball on their side won free food from a local pizza joint.
The remainder of the half was a back and forth event as ORU capitalized on their effective inside-out game while Austin Peay continued to attack the lane with their quick guards. At the halftime buzzer, ORU had managed to grab a 1 point lead at 29-28.
The half time entertainment consisted of a not-so-standard dance routine*, a fan shooting contest, and the always popular competition that involves fans throwing objects on to the court at a target in the middle in an attempt to win some type of prize.
*After my mention of a "standard dance routine" in my first recap, my mom reminded me that my two sisters, who have been involved in dancing most of their lives, would probably not appreciate my description of any dance routine as "standard". She's completely right because if I was out there trying to do what dance squads do every game, I would look like an uncoordinated fool.
Shortly after the halftime entertainment, the teams retook the floor and the second half began. The second half started off in Austin Peay's favor as ORU star Dominique Morrison committed his fourth foul at the 18:52 mark and had to come out of the game. Tyshwan Edmonson responded with a floater inside and nice assist to Josh Terry on back to back possessions. A few possessions later, Edmonson buried a #superhoop to help Austin Peay grab a 40-36 lead at the under 16 timeout.
After the timeout, the two teams traded a few baskets to make the score 45-41 Austin Peay at the 14:30 mark. At 13:18 ORU's Morrison reentered the game and it was at this point that the game turned in ORU's favor. Riding the back of their senior leader, ORU went on an 18-0 run that was finally ended by a Herdie Lawrence three pointer after almost 12 minutes without a point from Austin Peay. Although Austin Peay never quit, the big run had essentially sealed the game for ORU. Austin Peay managed to cut the lead to 7 around the one minute mark, but ORU went eight for eight on free throws in the last minute with their small but very spirited student section yelling "Boom, Eagles!" after each free throw, sealing away a 71-59 win.
Although I've lived in Tulsa for 3 years now, this was (embarrassingly) my first ORU game. I have to say that it was a lot of fun and the Mabee Center is a great place to watch game. On a final note, I have to give my star of the game to the ORU student section. Although they're small in number, the spirit, creativity, and passion of the ORU student section could rival any student section out there. So, if any of you ORU students are reading this, keep up the good work and keep cheering on your Eagles!
at ORAL ROBERTS 71, AUSTIN PEAY 59 11/19/2011
AUSTIN PEAY 0-3 (0-0) -- J. Terry 4-7 2-3 10; W. Triggs 5-14 1-4 11; T. Edmondson 6-15 0-0 14; J. Clyburn 0-4 4-4 4; C. Freeman 2-5 0-0 4; M. Baker 2-8 2-2 6; J. Blake 1-2 0-0 3; A. Campbell 1-3 2-3 4; H. Lawrence 1-2 0-0 3; M. Hasse 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-60 11-16 59. ORAL ROBERTS 2-2 (0-0) -- R. Pearson Jr. 4-6 2-3 11; W. Niles 2-8 0-0 6; M. Craion 6-11 0-1 12; S. Roundtree 8-17 8-10 24; D. Morrison 2-7 5-5 10; M. Manghum 1-4 2-2 5; J. Lliteras 1-5 0-1 3. Totals 24-58 17-22 71.
Three-point goals: APSU 4-18 (A. Campbell 0-2; J. Clyburn 0-2; T. Edmondson 2-8; J. Blake 1-2; M. Baker 0-2; J. Terry 0-1; H. Lawrence 1-1), ORU 6-20 (R. Pearson 1-2; D. Morrison 1-3; W. Niles 2-7; M. Manghum 1-3; J. Lliteras 1-5); Rebounds: APSU 29 (J. Terry 6), ORU 36 (M. Craion 11); Assists: APSU 12 (J. Clyburn 5), ORU 11 (M. Craion 3); Total Fouls -- APSU 19, ORU 14; Fouled Out: APSU-M. Baker; ORU-None.