Oral Roberts (6-6) at (9) Baylor (10-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, December 30, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ferrell Center (10,367) -- Waco, Texas. Television: FSN-Plus. Home Record: ORU 3-1, Baylor 6-0. Away Record: ORU 1-5, Baylor 0-0. Neutral Record: ORU 2-0, Baylor 4-1. Conference Record: ORU 0-0, Baylor 0-0. Series Record: Baylor leads, 4-0.
GAME NOTES: The Baylor Bears will try to extend their winning streak to five games on Monday night when they play host to the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles at the Ferrell Center.
Oral Roberts has had an up-and-down season, as it sits with a 6-6 record. It has challenged itself with its early-season record, losing tough road games to impressive teams Wichita State (71-58), Wisconsin (76-67), Kansas State (71-63) and Saint Louis (72-55). The Golden Eagles most recently snapped a three-game losing streak on Dec. 21 with a 69-55 victory over Dallas Baptist.
Baylor has been nothing short of outstanding through the first two months of the season, with its only loss in 11 tries coming to nationally-ranked Syracuse in the championship game of the Maui Invitational (74-67). The Bears have won four in a row since that setback, including their signature win over Kentucky on a neutral floor on Dec. 6, 67-62. They most recently dismissed Southern on Dec. 22, 81-56, to improve to 6-0 at the Ferrell Center.
The Bears have defeated the Golden Eagles on all four previous occasions, although the squads haven't met up since 1994.
The Golden Eagles did what was expected of them against Division II Dallas Baptist their last time out, as they shot 48.9 percent from the field and dominated the rebounding battle, 41-21, en route to the 14-point victory. Providing a spark off the bench was Shawn Glover. Not only did he shoot 7-of-8 from the field for 20 points to go with nine rebounds, but he was also a factor on the defensive end of the floor with two blocks and two steals. Corbin Byford netted 15 points, while David Mason handed out 10 assists.
Despite shooting a respectable 44.7 percent from the floor on the season, Oral Roberts scores just 66.9 ppg (for a -0.3 scoring margin) because it only makes 4.1 3-pointers per contest at a 31.2 percent success rate. Glover is an elite scoring option, pouring in 20.4 ppg with stellar percentages from the floor (.477), 3-point range (.438) and the foul line (.833). With Obi Emegano (19.0 ppg) out for the season, Korey Billbury (11.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg) has stepped up as the second option.
The Bears thoroughly dominated Southern in their most recent contest, outshooting their opponent from the field, 50 percent to 34 percent, while also taking advantage of their ample opportunities at the free-throw line (32- of-47) on their way to the easy 25-point triumph. Pacing five teammates in double figures was Isaiah Austin with 14 points, and the center added 10 rebounds, four steals and three blocks for good measure. Both Brady Heslip (13 points) and Rico Gathers (12 points, eight rebounds) were impressive off the bench, Cory Jefferson added 12 points and six boards, and Kenny Chery rounded out the balanced attack with 10 points.
Baylor's outstanding play on both ends of the floor has become a theme this season, as it shoots 50 percent from the floor (including 42.5 percent from beyond the arc) for 78.5 ppg, 11.8 points more than it allows. It is also one of the nation's best rebounding teams, hauling in 40.4 per game for a +11.0 margin. Jefferson is the top threat, posting 14.1 ppg and 8.5 rpg while shooting just shy of 55 percent from the field. Chery brings 12.2 ppg to the table, Heslip (11.3 ppg) has made 30-of-61 from 3-point range (.492) and Austin (10.1 ppg) blocks 3.1 shots per contest.
Baylor has proven to be one of the nation's best teams this season, especially on its home floor, so it should have no problem dismissing an inconsistent Oral Roberts squad in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Baylor 84, Oral Roberts 64
12/30 13:04:25 ET