Obi Emegano proved his knack for getting to the free throw and is in the top 10 in the career record books in free throws made, attempted and free throw percentage. He also put together one of the best scoring seasons during 2015-16 with 669 points, 10th in the ORU single season record books. In two full seasons, Emegano scored 1,367 career points, entering the top 15 in ORU history.
Brandon Conley brought an energy to the court that resulted in rebounds, blocks and easy buckets. A semifinalist for the Dark Horse Dunker of the Year award, Conley finished his career shooting .576 (249-432) from the field, the second best career field goal percentage in program history. He amassed more than 500 career rebounds and was also in the top 10 in career blocks with 94.
Sutton had this to say about his senior class: "Obi will go down as one of the best scorers we have had at ORU. He had an incredible knack for getting the ball in the basket in a number of different ways. He's going to have a bright future, we hope he can stick on an NBA roster or at least get a tryout, but if not he'll have a long career playing overseas. Brandon really improved from day one. He had great passion and I thought guys fed off his energy. If you go back and look at the games he played well and played with energy, we probably played well as a team. He had so much influence on the other guys. Both of these guys will graduate and both of them will have a chance to go make money playing the game they love."
An 8-2 start to the season, including retention of the PSO Mayor's Cup and a Men Against Breast Cancer Classic Championship had the Oral Roberts men's basketball team soaring in the early goings of the 2015-16 season.
An RPI that climbed to 14th in the nation, the highest by a team in the history of The Summit League, did nothing to squelch the confidence of a young roster that boasted just the two seniors. Even 20 minutes against the seventh-ranked Sooners of Oklahoma showed everyone that the Golden Eagles were not to be trifled with.
But playing seven of eight games on the road in the month of December, including two separate trips to the state of New Mexico and games against OU and LSU, who featured the probable first pick in the NBA draft, caught up to the Golden Eagles and a losing skid stripped ORU of all its swagger as the team entered Summit League play. Having lost four straight heading into a road game against the eventual Summit League champion IPFW, ORU dropped the league opener and lost its leading scorer for two games in the process.
"I thought our guys really played well in November and had some big wins," said Sutton. "Then we hit that stretch in December and I thought our schedule kind of beat us up a little bit. We were on the road six straight games and we could never recover and get our confidence back."
ORU stopped the bleeding with a home win against North Dakota State and kept it going with road wins at IUPUI and Western Illinois, returning home with the chance to make a big statement in the league. The Golden Eagles went 0-3, including surrendering late leads against Omaha and IPFW and instead of being in the driver's seat were forced to try and dig out of a hole.
Winners of three of the last five games of the regular season, ORU battled South Dakota State on the road in the season finale as they tried to spoil senior day and a share of the league championship but fell in the closest decision for either team at Frost Arena since 2011.
Even with the loss, the Golden Eagles gained some confidence and looked ready to go in Sioux Falls for a rematch a week later in the first round of The Summit League Tournament. ORU jumped out to a 23-8 lead and led for 38:22 of the game, but after opening a seven point lead with 2:07 to play went cold and did not score the rest of the contest, succumbing to a 10-0 SDSU run to end the game.
"I liked this team," said Sutton. "The guys never stopped working, we have great kids and we probably played our best game of the year the last game of the year. It just happened to be against a good South Dakota State team and happened to be in front of 10,000 Jackrabbit fans."
A disappointing 14-17 record, even with the nation's seventh leading scorer, left a promising season unfulfilled for ORU. The bright side is that ORU returns all but to players, including a talented group of underclassmen that got plenty of experience.
"We aren't used to this. It's not what we recruited them to come and do, we recruited them to come in and win championships," said Sutton. "I think we have a good nucleus of young players that got a lot of experience this year. We were very high on this freshman class and three of them got a ton of experience and started throughout the year. I think DaQuan can make a really big jump between his freshman and sophomore years. Kris started a lot of games and can really score. He'll get better with some strength and confidence. He needs to have a great spring, summer and fall in the weight room as does Javan White. With an extra 15-20 pounds I think Javan can be something special, and I think all three of them have the chance to be something special."
ORU's 2016-17 roster will return 66.5 percent of the scoring, 74 percent of the minutes played and 71.7 percent of the rebounding from this season. Albert Owens will enter his junior year as the leading returning scorer and rebounder after averaging 9.9 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. He averaged better than 10 points per game in Summit League play. Jalen Bradley will also look to carry more of the load and will enter his senior season after averaging 8.5 points, and two assists per game in his first season at ORU.
2015-16 ORU Team Notes
- ORU scored 112 points against Tabor, the most since dropping 113 on Utah Valley State in 2004.
- The Golden Eagles reached 100 twice in the same season for the first time since doing so three times in 2004. With the wins, ORU moved to 99-7 all-time when scoring at least 100 points, and 75-1 when doing so at home.
- Against Detroit, ORU hit 15-21 3-point attempts, the most 3-pointers in a game since hitting 15 at Centenary during the 2010 season. Only once has ORU shot a better percentage from 3-point range when making at least 10 treys (14-17 at South Dakota State, Jan. 8, 2011).
- With 373 turnovers this season, ORU set a new program record for fewest turnovers in a season, breaking the mark of 376 set in 2013-14.
- 22nd in the nation in free throw percentage (74.9)
2015-16 ORU Individual Notes
- Finishes his career 7th in career scoring average (20.4) at ORU.
- Ended the 2015-16 season tied for 8th in the NCAA in points per game (23.1)
- 13th in the nation and led the Summit League in total free throws made (198)
- His 669 points in 2015-16 are the ninth most at ORU in a single season.
- Scored 1,367 career points, 14thon the career list for ORU, one of 33 players to score 1,000-plus points for their ORU career.
- Finished with 433 made free throws on 530 attempts, sixth in both categories at ORU. His career .817 free throw percentage is tied for seventh.
- With 198 free throws this season and 205 last year, Emegano holds the fourth and fifth spots in the single season record books. He joins Caleb Green and Dominique Morrison as the only players to have more than one season rank in the top 10.
- Emegano's 85.3 percent from the charity stripe ties Tim Gill (1996-97) for fifth at ORU.
- A perfect 14-14 from the free throw line against Denver gives Emegano the second most made free throws in a game without a miss. Eldon Lawyer went 15-15 against Oglethorpe February 15, 1972.
- With a minimum of 10 attempts, ORU has gone perfect from the line 12 times, Emegano holds three of those, all coming this season.
- Shot 57.6 percent (249-432) from the field for his career, second in ORU history.
- Finished his career with 94 blocks, ninth at ORU.
- Saw action in 127 games over his four-year career, sixth in ORU history.
- Currently second in career 3-point percentage (.452, 61-135) after two seasons as a Golden Eagle.
- His mark of 45.7 percent (32-70) in 2015-16 is the fifth best single season percentage in program history.
- Young hit eight 3-pointers (8-9) on the road at Denver en route to a career-high 29 points. His eight treys are tied for the sixth most in a game and were the most since Moses Ehambe hit eigth against Centenary March 8, 2008.
- His .889 3-point percentage in that game at Denver is fifth in program history.
For the latest information on ORU men's basketball, follow @ORUMBB on Twitter or go to www.ORUAthletics.com. Fans can also receive updates on the team by downloading the Golden Eagles Front Row App at ORUAthletics.com/frontrow or in the App Store.