Chapel Hill, N.C. - Dean E. Smith Center
6 p.m., ESPN2
"It's going to be a process. It's going to take some time for this team to gel and learn how hard you have to play." -- Oral Roberts head coach Scott Sutton
"I wouldn't say that Oral Roberts was a great offensive team before they came here, but we turned them into one tonight." – South Dakota State head coach Scott Nagy following his team's 85-76 loss to the Golden Eagles on Dec. 6
Season to Date: Oral Roberts enters Saturday's contest with a 2-6 record. The Golden Eagles lone victories came against John Brown and South Dakota State, with respectable losses to Tulsa (50-43) and Missouri (92-83). Sutton's 10th squad in Tulsa is averaging 71.8 points per game on 44.4 percent shooting (32.2 percent from 3-point range), while posting a negative-2.5 rebounding margin.
Senior Savvy on the Perimeter: Robert Jarvis is leading Oral Roberts in scoring with 18.4 points per game, despite struggling with his shot through the first ten games of the season – 37.2 percent from the floor and 30 percent from long range. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder also led the Golden Eagles in scoring last season, earning distinction as the 2008 Summit League Sixth Man of the Year.
Youth Movement: The Golden Eagles were hit hard with casualties following last season, losing four seniors and three other letterwinners. That equates to seven underclassmen filling ORU's 13 allotted scholarships, a fact highlighted by Dominique Morrison, Beloved Rogers and Kyron Stokes – all freshmen – starting against Louisiana-Lafayette on Nov. 25. That outing marked the first time in eight seasons that Sutton has started three freshmen in a game.
Traveling Man: With the fall exam schedule complete, the Golden Eagles will add another veteran body to their youthful roster. Transfers are commonplace in college athletics, but not quite the way Kevin Ford has trekked around the country. The junior forward began his career at New Mexico State (3.4 pts, 3.8 rebs) before transferring to the College of Southern Idaho (7.1 pts, 5.6 rebs) for his sophomore season. Ford then moved to Ball State for the 2007-08 fall semester just prior to arriving at Oral Roberts in January.
Preseason Expectations: Oral Roberts was voted by its conference's coaches, SID's and sportswriters to win the Summit League championship for the fourth time in five seasons. The Golden Eagles narrowly edged out North Dakota State by five points and Oakland by eight. Jarvis joined senior forward Marcus Lewis on the preseason all-conference team.
First Time for Everything: Saturday's contests marks the Golden Eagles' first game against a top-ranked program. Oral Roberts is 8-44 all-time against opponents ranked in the AP Top 25, with its last win coming against No. 3 Kansas in Lawrence on Nov. 15, 2006.
Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series with Oral Roberts, 3-0. The Tar Heels last defeated the Golden Eagles, 87-65, in Chapel Hill on Dec. 8, 1984.
Background Location: Tulsa, Okla. Enrollment: 3,082 Conference: The Summit League Nickname: Golden Eagles Colors: Gold, Navy Blue & White Head Coach: Scott Sutton Record at ORU: 170-117 Last Year: 24-9 (16-2)
Projected Starters: 11 Reggie Guyton (5-11, 175, Jr.) – 3.9 ppg, 2.5 apg 10 Robert Jarvis (5-11, 185, Sr.) - 18.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg 25 Kyron Stokes (6-5, 210, Fr.) – 7.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg 45 Dominique Morrison (6-6, 205, Fr.) - 11.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg 21 Marcus Lewis (6-8, 265, Sr.) – 11.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg Key Reserves: 00 Andre Hardy (6-6, 230, So.) – 9.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg 5 Kelvin Sango (6-3, 200, Sr.) – 4.9 ppg