After a week and a half of holiday vacation and three basketball games in three different cities, I'm finally back home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Although I enjoyed every bit of my vacation (except the few parts where I had to deal with work issues), it's good to be back home and get a chance to once again see the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles play. Although I have no real loyalty to ORU except for them being in my current city of residence, the 800 Games Project has encouraged me to attend a handful of their games, and I've become a bit of a fan.
Due to some sluggishness on my part, I didn't make it to the Mabee Center until just before tip-off. Much to my surprise, about 20 people had the same problem, resulting in a long ticket line. By the time I bought my ticket and made my way to my seat, seven minutes had already passed and South Dakota State was leading 17-12. I anticipated this game being a particularly good one, as it matched up the two first-place teams in the Summit League, who were both 5-0 in conference play. After settling in to my seat, the first thing I noticed was the lack of the student group that was normally cheering on ORU, one of the unfortunate side effects of winter breaks at universities. After I arrived, the teams exchanged a couple empty possessions until SDSU star junior guard Nate Wolters hit a running jumper in the lane to push the Jackrabbits' lead to seven points going in to the under-12 timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, ORU's sophomore forward Steven Roundtree helped the Golden Eagles tie the game at 21 with six points in about a minute and a half. For the next six minutes until the under-four timeout, the game was a back-and-forth affair as both teams exchanged small runs. However, that trend would end coming out of the timeout, as ORU senior star Dominique Morrison took over the game. In the last four minutes of the game, DoMo, as he's called, put together 13 points, including a big #superhoop in the corner to help ORU pull to a 44-37 lead at halftime.
During halftime, with the Oral Roberts blimp launching from just behind my seat, I observed one of the halftime "traditions" that always amuses me. At every game I attend that has a blimp, there always seems to be a pack of children chasing the blimp around the arena in hopes of snagging one of the prizes that the blimp drops from the air. This always amuses me, because I highly doubt the kids even know what the prizes are and they are often prizes in which the kids would have no interest. Nonetheless, they chase the blimp all over the arena without much regard for the people around them.
After the second half started, the Jackrabbits made it clear that they were not backing down as their offense came out hitting on all cylinders. They quickly went on a 12-5 run, capped off by a three-pointer from their big shooting forward Jordan Dykstra. With the game tied at the under 16 timeout, it looked like this game was going to be a slugfest between the two best teams in the conference. Out of the timeout, DoMo grabbed the lead back for ORU with a tough leaning and-1 jumper. On the next possession he knocked down a three-pointer and then followed that up with a layup. It was clear that DoMo was taking over this game. But despite the outstanding performance from DoMo, SDSU would not go away, as they were able to answer nearly every Golden Eagle bucket with one of their own and only trailed 65-60 at the under-12 timeout.
However, it was a different story coming out of the timeout. On their first possession, the Jackrabbits came away empty after two good shot attempts. Then there was another empty possession and another. They had suddenly gone cold, and despite still getting good looks at the basket, they couldn't manage to find the bottom of the net. ORU took advantage on the other end as senior forward Michael Craion started to dominate inside. ORU capped off the 10-1 run with a monster #omgdunx by Steven Roundtree off a beautiful no look pass from Warren Niles. After nearly six minutes with no field goals, the Jackrabbits finally got back on the board with a three pointer from Chad White. With nearly seven minutes still left to play, and trailing 13 points, it looked like SDSU still had a chance to get some momentum and get back in the game. But fittingly, given his performance on this night, DoMo quickly quieted any hope of a SDSU comeback, as he answered with a #superhoop of his own that broke the Jackrabbits' spirit and spurred a 21-11 run for ORU to finish the game. The only question at the end of the game was whether ORU would make it to 100 points. Sitting at 97 points, the Golden Eagles took a couple stabs at the century mark with some unsuccessful three-point attempts in the last two minutes, but classily dribbled out the clock on their last possession to seal away the 97-78.
It was an impressive performance by the Golden Eagles, who appeared to show that they were the class of the Summit League thanks to the career-high 38 points from Dominique Morrison. On this night it was clear that we got to witness one of the better players in the country (that's right, I said country!) as he put on the DoMo show.
at ORAL ROBERTS 97, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 75 01/07/2012
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 13-5 (5-1) -- T. Fiegen 5-8 1-2 11; N. Wolters 9-22 4-4 22; G. Callahan 3-5 1-2 10; C. White 4-6 0-0 10; J. Dykstra 4-6 0-0 10; B. Carlson 2-4 0-1 5; T. Prince 2-2 0-0 4; Z. Horstman 0-0 0-0 0; M. Heemstra 0-0 0-0 0; Z. Monaghan 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 30-54 6-9 75. ORAL ROBERTS 14-4 (6-0) -- D. Morrison 11-15 11-11 38; R. Pearson Jr. 3-5 0-0 7; S. Roundtree 8-11 1-2 17; M. Craion 7-10 1-1 15; W. Niles 6-11 0-0 15; D. Bell-Holter 1-5 0-0 2; J. Lliteras 0-2 0-0 0; M. Manghum 0-0 0-0 0; R. Aery 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 37-61 13-14 97.
Three-point goals: SDST 9-18 (G. Callahan 3-5; N. Wolters 0-3; B. Carlson 1-3; C. White 2-3; J. Dykstra 2-3; Z. Monaghan 1-1), ORU 10-21 (R. Pearson 1-2; D. Morrison 5-8; W. Niles 3-7; R. Aery 1-2; S. Roundtree 0-1; J. Lliteras 0-1); Rebounds: SDST 19 (J. Dykstra 4), ORU 28 (D. Morrison 7); Assists: SDST 15 (N. Wolters 6), ORU 20 (W. Niles 6); Total Fouls -- SDST 17, ORU 14; Fouled Out: SDST-None; ORU-None.