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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 14, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Leonard E. Merrell Center (5,600) -- Katy, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: SHSU 9-6, ORU 9-4. Away Record: SHSU 6-10, ORU 8-3. Neutral Record: SHSU 1-0, Southeastern Louisiana 1-2. Conference Record: SHSU 8-10, ORU 13-5. Series Record: ORU leads, 3-1.
GAMES NOTES: The third-seed Oral Roberts Golden Eagles and the sixth-seed Sam Houston State Bearkats will collide in the quarterfinals of the Southland Conference Tournament at the Leonard E. Merrell Center on Thursday night.
The winner of this game will move into the semifinal against two-seed Northwestern State.
In the first round Wednesday night Sam Houston State was able to hold on for a 69-63 win over Central Arkansas. The Bearkats had lost five of the last six games of the regular season to drop below .500 on the season but the win over the Bears has them back at an even 16-16. Sam Houston State is just three years removed from its most recent tournament title.
Even though Oral Roberts stumbled with losses in three of its last four games of the regular season the Golden Eagles still earned a bye through the first round of the tourney. Oral Roberts' rough stretch at the end of the regular season still left the team a solid 18-13 overall, but at 13-5 in-conference, the Golden Eagles missed out on the regular season crown by three games.
These teams met for just the third and fourth time ever this season. Oral Roberts grabbed victories in each meeting this year and has won three of the four total matchups.
Led by 19 points from DeMarcus Gatlin and a double-double from James Thomas (16 points, 11 rebounds) Sam Houston State was able to survive against Central Arkansas. The Bearkats were impressive on defense against one of the better scoring squads in the conference holding the Bears to just 37.9 percent shooting.
In the win the Bearkats shot an uncharacteristic 48.1 percent from the field. Normally the Bearkats really struggle to find a rhythm on the offensive end as they shoot just 38.4 percent for the season while netting just 64.3 points per game. Where they have been strong is on the other end as they keep foes to just 61.6 points per game on 41.2 percent. There is no one dominant scorer for the Bearkats who prefer balance across its roster. Thomas (9.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg) serves as the leading scorer and rebounder while Darius Gatson (9.5 ppg) and Gatlin (8.6 ppg) are among seven other players scoring at least six points per game.
Oral Roberts has had five days to recover from a brutal, 86-84 overtime loss to none other than Central Arkansas in the regular season finale. Tied 84-84, the Golden Eagles missed their only field goal attempt in the last minute of overtime but were not done in until Anthony Borden sank a layup as time expired.
Individual scoring is something the Golden Eagles have plenty of. Warren Niles (19.1 ppg) is the second leading scorer in the conference while Damen Bell- Holter (15.8 ppg, 9.7 rpg) is also among the top five scorers in the conference. Bell-Holter isn't just a scorer though as he leads the league in rebounds while among the top five players in the conference in blocked shots (1.3 pg). Shawn Glover (14.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.4 bpg) protects the rim well also and is another strong scorer. As a team the Golden Eagles are scoring a healthy 70.8 points per game, while ranking second in the conference in field-goal percentage (.462).
Although there is more balance on the offensive end for the Bearkats, the Golden Eagles are a more productive scoring team and thus have the edge in this contest.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oral Roberts 72, Sam Houston State 64
03/14 10:32:28 ET
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