Surprising Cougars open tournament play against Golden Eagles
Sacramento, CA (Sports Network) – The upset-minded Oral Roberts Golden
Eagles are seeded 14th in this NCAA Tournament, and they will battle
third-seeded Washington State in the first round on Thursday. Next up for
the winner of this game is a second round meeting with either sixth-
seeded Vanderbilt or 11th-seeded George Washington.
Oral Roberts is coming off a 71-67 victory over Oakland in the
championship game of the Mid-Continent Tournament title game. The Golden
Eagles are making their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance and are 2-3 all-
time at the event. Last season, they reached the “Big Dance” for the
first time in over two decades, and they lost to top-seeded Memphis in the
Washington State owns a 25-7 record under first-year head coach Tony
Bennett, and the win total is tied for the second most in program history.
The Cougars finished second in the Pac-10 standings, tying a school record,
and they are set to participate in the NCAA Tournament for the first time
since 1994. The third seed is the highest they have ever achieved in
what is their fifth all-time appearance.
Washington State won its only previous meeting with Oral Roberts by a
score of 98-50 in 1993.
Oral Roberts is led by three-time Mid-Continent Player of the Year Caleb
Green, an explosive offensive performer who is racking up 20.8 ppg to go
along with 9.3 rpg. Green is the leading scorer in conference history, and
he has paced his club in points in 13 of the last 14 outings. He and Ken
Tutt became just the seventh set of teammates in NCAA history to eclipse the
2,000-point mark. Tutt is averaging 16.1 ppg, and he has knocked down 81
three-pointers to date. The fact that no other player on the Oral Roberts
roster is scoring more than 7.8 ppg reinforces the importance of Green and
Tutt to the squad. The Golden Eagles are scoring 72.3 ppg this season while
limiting opponents to 65.7 ppg on 41.6 percent shooting. On a down note, they
have committed over 501 turnovers, including 131 giveaways by Green.
Through 32 games, Washington State’s Derrick Low is scoring 13.6 ppg on
the strength of his 40 percent shooting from three-point range. The only
other double-digit scorer for the Cougars is Kyle Weaver with 11.5
ppg. A tremendously versatile performer, Weaver is also posting 5.5 rpg, 4.5
apg, 69 steals and 40 blocks. The fact that Washington State is averaging 66.5
ppg this season suggests that the club is far from explosive at the
offensive end. Strong defense has been key to success, as the Cougars are
limiting their opponents to 59.1 ppg on 40.5 percent shooting from the
floor. They have blocked a school-record 143 shots and have held their
last nine opponents without a field goal for a span of at least five minutes.