Oral Roberts led by as many as 32 points and cruised to a 20-point victory on the road at Missouri State, downing the Bears 72-52 at JQH Arena Saturday afternoon. The Golden Eagles (4-4) made sure the game was never in doubt, scoring 19 of the game's first 21 points to lead 19-2 11 minutes into the first half.
Warren Niles was the leading scorer with 21 points and for the first time since Dec. 30, 2011, led the team in rebounding with a career-high nine boards. Niles filled up the stat sheet with an 8-of-10 performance from the field, including a perfect 3-of-3 mark from 3-point range in addition to his nine rebounds, two assists and a steal.
Shawn Glover added 14 points, while Damen Bell-Holter added 12 points and Steven Roundtree scored nine. With the game well in hand early, ORU and Coach Scott Sutton had the chance to get extended minutes for the freshman on the team, with 11 players seeing significant action in the contest, 10 of whom scored at least two points. D.J. Jackson had three points, three assists and six rebounds in the first start of his career.
Anthony Downing ended the game with 18 points but had just five in the first half for Missouri State, while Christian Kirk had 10 points and Dorrian Williams ended the game with eight for Missouri State (2-5).
ORU shot 51 percent for the game (30-58), holding MSU to a 30.3 percent clip (20-66) and dominated the paint with a 44-34 advantage on the glass and a 36-28 advantage in the paint. ORU also had a season-low 12 turnovers in the victory.
"I'm pleased, obviously, with how we played," said Sutton. "It was very unexpected. I have a lot of respect for Coach (Paul) Lusk. I thought our guys did a great job of coming out with a lot of energy. Warren Niles continues to shoot the ball at a rate that very guys across America are able to and he got us going early. Our defense was good early and we probably got fortunate where they missed some shots. We did a great job on the glass. We really challenged our guys the last couple of days in practice and I thought they did a fantastic job of getting defensive rebounds, getting out and pushing the ball and getting some opportunities."
It was all ORU early in the game, and after Missouri State scored the game's first two points, the Golden Eagles rattled off 19-straight to take a 19-2 lead with 8:55 to play in the half. A pair of free throws finally broke the scoreless streak for the Bears.
The blitzkrieg was not over, though, as ORU continued to roll in the first half, putting a 25-point cushion between them and the Bears, leading 40-15 at the break after a Niles 3-pointer at the buzzer. As the teams went into the locker room, Niles (19) had more points to his credit than the entire Missouri State team (15).
The 15 points given up was the fewest to start a game since leading Arkansas-Pine Bluff 33-15 at halftime in the NIT Tip Off last season.
The first half stats were as lopsided as the score, as ORU shot 55 percent (15-27) from the field and hit four of eight 3-point attempts, while Missouri State was 6-of-30 (20 percent) from the field, including a 1-15 mark (6.7 percent) from beyond the arc.
What Niles did for ORU in the first half, Bell-Holter did in the second as he scored eight-straight points for ORU as the Golden Eagles continued to run past the Bears, moving it to a 49-19 lead less than five minutes into the second half.
A fast-break layup by Glover would give ORU a 32-point lead, the largest of the game, at the 15:00 mark in the second half.
With the game well in hand, Sutton allowed the reserves to get additional time with all 11 players seeing at least six minutes of action, nine playing at least 10 minutes in the contest.
ORU will travel to Texas State on Wednesday, December 5 in the Golden Eagles' final contest before taking a break for final exams.