Golden Eagles Set for Thursday Clash with Fighting Leathernecks

TULSA, Okla. – The Golden Eagles open a Mabee Center season-ending three-game homestand when they host Western Illinois … ORU hosts IUPUI on Saturday and closes out their 2009-10 home schedule against Centenary on Tuesday, Feb. 16 … the Golden Eagles have defeated Western eight straight times entering tonight’s game … head coach Scott Sutton is looking for career win No. 199 tonight …  Dominique Morrison is expected to start his 57th consecutive game tonight.

The Coaches
ORU’s Scott Sutton is in his 11th season as the head coach of the Golden Eagles, and his 15th overall with the program. Sutton is 198-137 (.591) as head coach and ranks second in school history in career wins. He is the son of legendary coach Eddie Sutton, and the younger brother of former Oklahoma State head coach Sean Sutton. Scott Sutton is a two-time Summit League Coach of the Year (2002, 2008) and earned NABC District 12 co-Coach of the Year in 2005, sharing the award with his father. In 2007, Sutton was a finalist for the Clair Bee Coaching Excellence Award. Since the start of the 2001-02 season, Sutton has posted a 175-101 (.634) record, including four 20-win seasons, four consecutive Summit League regular-season titles (2005-08) and three straight NCAA Tournament berths (2006-08). 
    Western’s Jim Molinari is 18-34 in his second season with the Leathernecks, and 241-220 in 16 seasons overall.

Oakland Leftovers
Freshman guard Warren Niles scored 30 points against the Golden Grizzlies, becoming the first ORU freshman to have multiple 30-point efforts since Caleb Green in 2003-04 … Niles scored 10 of his points in the final 2:28, including a game-tying layup with 14 seconds remaining … Niles was 13-of-16 from the field, the best shooting night this season for an ORU player … sophomore forward Dominique Morrison extended his double-digit scoring streak to 21 games by scoring 19 points … the Golden Eagles were-out-rebounded (32-31) for the second straight game after out-rebounding their opponents in nine straight games … sophomore guard Ken Holdman blocked two more shots, giving him 10 in his last three games.

Niles Named Summit League Player of the Week
Warren Niles claimed his second Summit League Player of the Week honor after averaging 25.5 points and shooting nearly 60 percent during the week of Feb. 1-7. Niles’ performance included a 30-point outing at league-leader Oakland.
    Against the Golden Grizzlies, Niles shot 81 percent, converting 13-of-16 attempts, and scored 10 of his game-high 30 points over the final 2:28 seconds, including a game-tying layup with 14 seconds remaining. Niles converted his first seven shots in the contest and went 3-for-4 from three-point range while also grabbing three rebounds
    In his previous outing, Niles scored a team-high 21 points in ORU’s overtime victory over IPFW. He added five rebounds, three steals and two assists on the night.
    Niles is the first Summit League freshman to win multiple player of the week honors since ORU’s Caleb Green and Ken Tutt captured three apiece in 2003-04.
    For the week, Niles shot 59.5 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc, to go along with his 25.5 scoring average and 4.0 rebounds per game. For the season, Niles is averaging 12.4 points and 3.9 rebounds while shooting 37.5 percent (45-120) from 3-point range.
    Since scoring an ORU freshman record 39 points at IUPUI on Jan. 14, Niles is averaging 19.3 points and shooting 46.7 percent from 3-point range.

Golden Eagles Draw Austin Peay for BracketBuster
Oral Roberts will visit Austin Peay on Feb. 20 as part of the ESPNU BracketBuster series. The game, which will not be televised by the ESPN family of networks, will be the fourth meeting between the two schools. The Governors own a 2-1 edge in the series. ORU will be making its first trip to the Clarksville, Tenn., campus.
    A longtime Ohio Valley Conference member, Austin Peay is currently 14-11 overall and tied for third in the OVC with a 8-5 record. The Governors are coached by Dave Loos, a 23-year veteran who has won over 300 games in 19 seasons at Austin Peay. On the court the Govs are led by 6-foot-3 senior guard Wes Channels, who averages 16.4 points per game.
    This is ORU’s fifth BracketBuster game but its first since a 65-64 home loss to Creighton in 2008. The Golden Eagles are 1-3 all-time in BracketBuster-related games with their lone win an 86-76 victory at Missouri State in 2005.
    While ORU and Austin Peay haven’t met since 1978, the two programs are forever linked. Former ORU athletic director and Hall of Fame member Bob Brooks served in the same capacity at Austin Peay in between his two stints at ORU. Former ORU basketball head coach Lake Kelly (1977-79) won 189 games in 11 seasons with the Governors and Calvin Garrett, who earned All-America honors in 1980 at ORU, was a first-team All-OVC selection in 1977 at Austin Peay.

ORU in Summit League Play
ORU is 141-60 (.701) in regular season Summit League play all-time in 13 seasons. ORU owns the second-best winning percentage in League history, behind only former member Missouri State’s .767 (79-24) clip. The Golden Eagles have captured five regular-season titles (‘99, ‘05, ‘06, ‘07, ‘08) and three tournament championships (‘06, ‘07, ‘08). Since the 2004-05 season, ORU is 77-18 (.811) in Summit League regular season play, and 88-20 (.815) when including Summit League Tournament games.

At Home in Mabee Center
ORU has experienced a basketball rebirth over the last seven seasons, and nowhere has that been more evident than in games played at Mabee Center. Since the start of the 2002-03 season, ORU is 82-14 (.854) at home and an amazing 56-6 (.903) in conference play in that time.

Giant Killers
Every season since 2002-03, ORU has pulled off at least one upset of a power conference or Top 25-ranked team. This season, the Golden Eagles earned the trifecta, defeating Stanford, Missouri and No. 13/12 New Mexico, all in the course of a month. 
Date    Opponent        Score    Notes
11/26/02    Arkansas (H)    76-64    First win over Arkansas since ‘96
11/30/02    Wichita State (H)    76-71    Part of 6-0 start to season    
12/20/03    Wichita State (A)    76-73    First game in WSU’s renovated Koch Arena
12/20/04    Georgetown (N)*    81-63    Eagles defeated Hoyas squad with Jeff Green, Roy Hibbert
2/19/05    Missouri State (A)    86-76    Sutton defeats the man he replaced as ORU head coach
11/23/05    Southern Cal (N)^    68-48    First win over a Pac-10 team in 23 years    
11/15/06    No. 3 Kansas (A)    78-71    Highest-ranked opponent ever defeated
12/28/06    Seton Hall (N)%    76-74    Second win over Big East team in three years
12/20/07    Oklahoma State (N)&    74-59    First Sutton vs. Sutton battle goes to little bro
12/22/08    South Florida (N)*    86-63    Third win over Big East foe in five years
11/18/09    Stanford (A)#    83-81    Roderick Pearson’s buzzer beater the difference
12/9/09    Missouri (H)    60-59    ORU rallies from 11 points down to win on Michael Craion’s layup at :0.9
12/23/09    No. 13 New Mexico (H)    75-66    Michael Craion gets 18-13-7 as Golden Eagles roll Lobos
*-Rainbow Classic; ^-Great Alaska Shootout; %-BYU Holiday Classic; &-All-College Classic; *-San Juan Shootout; #-Cancun Challenge

Throughout all the adversity the Golden Eagles have suffered through this season, the one constant has been the play of sophomore forward Dominique Morrison. Through 25 games Morrison leads ORU and ranks among Summit League leaders in scoring (15.4) and assists (2.7), while also ranking among the league top 10 in free throw percentage (.840). Morrison has also saved his best efforts for the toughest foes. He scored a career-high 31 points in ORU’s win at Stanford on Nov. 18; had a game-high 21 points in a home win over Missouri on Dec. 9, and pumped in 17 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals in ORU’s upset of No. 13/12 New Mexico. In those three games, Morrison averaged 23.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists.

The Magnificent Seven Becomes the Elite Eight
Now that junior forward Javier Nasarre has returned to action after missing six games with a fractured right wrist, the Golden Eagles are finally back at full strength — eight scholarship players.  
    It’s been a tumultuous year already for ORU with Hunter McClintock, Tim Morton and Roderick Pearson out for the year with ACL injuries. Sophomore guard Beloved Rogers also quit over Thanksgiving weekend. Nasarre has missed a total of nine games due to various injuries, and Stokes (2 games) an Niles (1 game) have each missed time for various injury-related reasons. Only five players (Dominique Morrison, Michael Craion, Kevin Ford, Ken Holdman and Damen Bell-Holter) have played in all 25 games.
    All told, ORU basketball players have missed a combined total of 83 games due to injuries entering Saturday’s game at Oakland.

Youthful Ambitions
While ORU’s injury situation has gotten plenty of attention over the past months, one angle that hasn’t been discussed much is the Golden Eagles’ youth. Six of ORU’s top nine players are either freshmen or sophomores, with the sole upperclassmen being Kevin Ford, Michael Craion and Javier Nasarre. Sophomores Dominique Morrison and Ken Holdman, and freshman Warren Niles join Ford and Craion in the starting lineup while sophomore Kyron Stokes and freshmen Damen Bell-Holter and Mikey Manghum (a walk-on) comprise ORU’s bench most nights.
    ORU’s loss to Oakland on Jan. 7 illustrated the lack of experience. The Golden Grizzlies starters owned a total of 467 games of Division I experience, while ORU’s quintet had just 215 career games between them.

In the Nick of Time
ORU has struggled almost all season with depth issues, but as the Summit League season nears the home stretch the Golden Eagles are getting a lift from their bench. Freshman walk-on guard Mikey Manghum and junior forward/center Javier Nasarre have played an increased role of late and their impact can’t be ignored. While the duo is combining to average just 3.7 points per game, they have combined to play 69 minutes in the last three contests. Their emergence has not only given head coach Scott Sutton a legitimate 9-man rotation, it has also allowed him to rest often-overused regulars such as Dominique Morrison, Michael Craion and Kevin Ford. In a Jan. 23 win at Centenary, Craion matched his season-low with 19 minutes, while Morrison (27) and Ford (16) played their fewest minutes in more than two months.

Niles’ Big Night
Warren Niles set a school freshman single-game scoring record when he poured in 39 points in ORU’s 90-87 overtime loss at IUPUI on Jan. 14. Niles was 13-of-23 from the field, including 5-of-10 from 3-point range, and 8-of-10 from the free throw line. His 13 field goals against the Jaguars were the most by any ORU player since Caleb Green converted 14 at Southern Utah on Jan. 4, 2006.

Color Him Productive
Junior forward Michael Craion is perhaps ORU’s most complete player, and his efforts in the early going are making a mark. In back-to-back victories over UMKC and Southern Utah in December Craion scored season high’s of 21 and 22 points, then followed those efforts up with the game-winning shot against Missouri on Dec. 9. He saved his best for New Mexico, when his 18-point, 13-rebound, 7-assist effort earned Summit League player of the week honors. Arguably the Summit League’s top newcomer, Craion enters play Thursday averaging 12.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game overall while averaging 14.4 points and 7.5 boards in Summit League play. 

Kenny Ho-Ho
To say that sophomore guard Ken Holdman is ORU’s most improved player from a season ago is kind of like saying the wind blows in Oklahoma. It just doesn’t do the truth any real justice. A little-used utility player as a freshman, Holdman was thrust into the starting lineup at point guard after Roderick Pearson and Hunter McClintock each suffered season-ending knee injuries. And while Holdman is still a bit of a work in progress, he is becoming one of ORU’s more reliable performers. In 21 games as a starter, Holdman is averaging 6.1 points and 3.5 rebounds. In ORU’s latest upset win, Holdman scored a career-high 13 points against No. 13/12 New Mexico, including three 3-pointers. Holdman also has 10 blocked shots in his last three games, giving him 16 for the season.

Kansas City Kings
The 2009-10 Golden Eagles roster contains a rarity for any program: three players from the same out-of- state city. Juniors Michael Craion (Ruskin HS) and Rod Pearson (Raytown South HS), and sophomore Dominique Morrison (Raytown HS) all live in Kansas City, Mo. The last time ORU had three or more players on the roster from the same out-of-state city was in 1987-88 when four players hailed from Charlotte, N.C.: Rodney Davis (Myers Park HS), Anthony Houston (Harding HS), Jules Springs (West HS) and Haywoode Workman (Myers Park HS).

Angsomwine Inks NLI During Early Signing Period
Chris Angsomwine has signed a National Letter-of-Intent to play at ORU during the fall early signing period.
    A 6-9, 215-pound forward at Kilgore (Texas) College, Angsomwine is ORU’s first 2010 signee. He will have two years of eligibility when he enrolls next fall.
    Angsomwine is in his first year with Rangers after spending last season at Harcum College in suburban Philadelphia. 

Fox College Sports, KGEB to Broadcast All Home Games
For the second straight season ORU Athletics has partnered with University-owned Golden Eagle Broadcasting and Fox College Sports to televise all men’s basketball regular-season home games. Both outlets will also carry the weekly ORU Sports Report.
    Golden Eagle Broadcasting affiliate KGEB will televise all home games locally, with weekend games showing live and weekday contests tape-delayed at 10 p.m. Fox College Sports will televise all games live nationally on cable and satellite systems across the country. Mabee Center Productions will handle production duties for all broadcasts.
    Fox College Sports is available in over 40 million households across the country on most major cable systems including Time Warner, Comcast and Charter Communications, as well as DirecTV (Ch. 617). FCS
 consists of three channels: FCS Atlantic, FCS Central and FCS Pacific.
    Rob Loeber will again serve as the play-by-play announcer for all broadcasts. Color duties will be split between former ORU standout Mickey Michalec and longtime analyst Bryndon Manzer.

ORU Picked Second in Summit League Preseason Poll
ORU was picked second in the annual Summit League preseason poll of head coaches, media members and Sports Information Directors. Oakland was the overwhelming preseason favorite, garnering 34 of 35 first place votes while third place IUPUI received the other. After Oakland, ORU and IUPUI, the others are South Dakota State, North Dakota State, IPFW, Southern Utah, Western Illinois, UMKC, and Centenary.

Ford, Morrison Named Preseason All-Summit League
Forwards Kevin Ford and Dominique Morrison were named to the Summit League’s preseason second team. Ford, a senior, averaged 9.4 points and 7.4 rebounds while Morrison, a sophomore, averaged 9.6 points and 3.2 rebounds in starting all 31 games. Both players were named to the 2009 All-Newcomer team.

ORU Basketball on the Radio
All ORU games can be heard in northeastern Oklahoma on “The Sports Animal”, 97.1 FM and 1550 AM. Geoff Haxton begins his third full season as the play-by-play voice of the Golden Eagles. Fans can also listen on-line at

The ORU Coaches Hour
Join ORU coaches and athletes every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. for the ORU Coaches Hour, broadcast live from Pepper’s Grill at 91st & Delaware and carried on FM 97.1 “The Sports Animal”. Tulsa radio personality Geoff Haxton hosts the one-hour call-in show. Men’s head coach Scott Sutton and women’s head coach Jerry Finkbeiner are regular guests.

About ORU
Founded in 1963 by evangelist Oral Roberts, ORU is a 400-acre campus located in South Tulsa. ORU boasts a total enrollment of over 5,000 students from all 50 states and more than 30 foreign countries. Some famous ORU alums include entertainer Kathy Lee Gifford, Pulitzer-prize nominated author Clifton Taulbert and two-time NCAA track & field national champion and 2008 Olympic silver medalist Andretti Bain.  “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening briefly attended ORU, and subsequently, many of the characters on the show are modeled after former ORU students and staff members. In fact, if you look closely over Ned Flanders’ fireplace, his college diploma reads “Oral Roberts University”.

Up Next
ORU hosts IUPUI for Homecoming, 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Mabee Center.