Depleted Musketeers suffer their first loss
Cincinnati, OH (Sports Network) - As it turns out, an upset is a lot easier to pull off when the high-ranked team plays without three of its top four scorers.
Eighth-ranked Xavier took the floor without a handful of its top players because of suspensions, clearing the way for Oral Roberts to record a 64-42 victory and deal the Musketeers their first loss of the season.
A fight at the end of Xavier's last game, a December 10 win against Cincinnati, led to the suspension of four players. Included in that group are senior Tu Holloway and junior Mark Lyons, who are the Musketeers' top two leading scorers by far. They have combined to average 35 points a game this season.
Holloway was given a one-game ban, while Lyons will sit for two games. Freshman Dezmine Wells and sophomore Landen Amos were handed four-game sentences.
Without them on the floor, Travis Taylor led Xavier (8-1) with 11 points, and Dee Davis added 10.
"Tough week for our program. Even tougher today. During tough times, tough people last," said Xavier head coach Chris Mack.
Dominique Morrison posted 19 points to lead the Golden Eagles (8-4), who were coming off Thursday's six-point loss at Gonzaga.
"We don't get this opportunity very often," said Oral Roberts head coach Scott Sutton. "One, to play a top-10 team and number two, to play them without three of their best players. It was unfortunate what happened last Saturday, but I don't want to take anything away from our kids. It was a great team win."
Oral Roberts started to pull away early in the first half. Morrison and Warren Niles each drilled a three-pointer during a 12-0 run that gave the Golden Eagles a 16-7 advantage about eight minutes into the game.
Later in the half, Niles and Morrison again made shots from long-distance to fuel a 10-0 burst that made it a 31-14 contest.
Oral Roberts went into the break with a 36-19 advantage, scored the first four points of the second half, and cruised to the finish.
Niles finished with 15 points and seven assists for the Golden Eagles, while Steven Roundtree netted 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
The only regular starters to take the floor for the Musketeers were Kenny Frease and Andre Walker. Frease suffered a cut over his left eye during the brawl and ended with four points Sunday, while Walker scored six points.
Xavier shot 32.7 percent...Oral Roberts made 44.6 percent of its shots. Morrison made 7-of-10, including 5-of-8 from three-point range...The teams hadn't met since 1986-87. Xavier holds a 10-8 series advantage.
12/18 17:09:52 ET