FACTS & STATS: Site: Sullivan Arena (8,700) -- Anchorage, Alaska. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: Belmont 1-0, Oral Roberts 1-0. Away Record: Belmont 3-0, Oral Roberts 1-1. Neutral Record: Belmont 0-1, Oral Roberts 1-1. Conference Record: Belmont 0-0, Oral Roberts 0-0. Series Record: First meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Belmont Bruins and the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles will square off in the third-place game of the Great Alaska Shootout at Sullivan Arena Saturday night.
Belmont suffered its first setback of the season and was denied a spot in Saturday's tournament title game with a 74-71 loss to Northeastern on Friday. The Bruins had come out of the gates firing on all cylinders early on with wins in each of their first four games including an impressive 70-62 defeat of last season's NIT champion Stanford on the road. Another tough road test is next on the docket with Belmont traveling to Richmond, Virginia to do battle with VCU.
Oral Roberts got by Loyola Marymount (75-66) in the first round of the tournament but was unable to defeat Charlotte in the tournament semifinals in a 72-58 defeat Friday night. Overall the Lions are 3-2 on the season and will play a home game against Oklahoma in their next matchup.
This marks the first time these two programs have ever matched up.
Belmont held double-digit leads in both halves against Northeastern but it didn't end up mattering as the Bruins eventually let the game slip away. The crucial point in the game arrived when Northeastern took a 70-68 lead with 58 seconds remaining to erase an 11-point deficit. Belmont then hit on 1-of-3 field goal attempts in the final minute. Overall Belmont shot 45.6 percent from the field including 12-of-21 from 3-point range but was out-dueled by a 50.0 percent shooting performance from the Huskies.
Despite the loss to Northeastern, Belmont has been a very solid team on both ends of the floor this season. The Bruins are scoring at an 80.2 points per game clip while hitting on 46.1 percent of their field goal attempts. On the other end opposing teams are scoring only 57.8 points per game and shooting 35.1 percent from the field. There are a number of options for head coach Rick Byrd to turn to on offense with four players scoring in double figures. Ian Clark (19.0 ppg) is the top scorer and has done so efficiently connecting on 55.7 percent of his shots. Trevor Noack (12.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg) is a solid frontcourt player while J.J. Mann (11.2 ppg) and Kerron Johnson (12.6 ppg, 4.8 apg) join Clark in the backcourt. Byrd does not rely much on his bench though with no reserve playing more than 18 minutes or scoring more than five points per game.
Fatigue could have been a factor for Oral Roberts in the loss to Charlotte. The Golden Eagles connected on only 33.9 percent of their shots from the floor but had all five starters play at least 24 minutes, four of which were on the court for more than 30. That led to a 42-0 deficit in points off the bench. Shawn Glover was the lead scorer with 15 points, while Warren Niles scored 15 and played all 40 minutes.
The Golden Eagles are a team that is tough to beat when they are able to shoot well. In their three wins the squad has shot 50.0 percent or better each time while failing to reach 40.0 percent in each of its two losses. Regardless of how well it is shooting Oral Roberts is a team that will launch it from 3- point range with success as the Eagles have hit on 43.7 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc. It's no wonder head coach Scott Sutton is keeping Niles in for so long in games. On the season Niles is scoring an astounding 24.4 points per game. Niles has reached that type of production while shooting at a very high percentage both overall (60.3 percent) and from 3-point range (62.5 percent). Steven Roundtree (10.6 ppg) is also scoring in double figures while Damon Bell-Holter 7.6 ppg, 9.8 rpg) has cleaned up on the glass.
This matchup is an intriguing one between a pair of mid-majors that could figure into the postseason race come year's end. The difference will be the balance that the Bruins bring to the table at both ends of the floor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Belmont 71, Oral Roberts 68
11/24 10:41:53 ET
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