Score: Oral Roberts 75 – Oklahoma State 80
Record: ORU (0-1) – OSU (1-0)
Location: Stillwater, Okla. (Gallagher-Iba Arena)
STILLWATER, Okla. – A furious comeback bid by the Oral Roberts men's basketball team was held off in the final minute in an 80-75 loss at Oklahoma State Wednesday night at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Deondre Burns and Emmanuel Nzekwesi combined for 28 points in the second half as the Golden Eagles trimmed a 16-point deficit down to one on three occasions in the final three minutes, but could not overcome the Cowboys to start the 2019-20 season.
After a five-minute scoring drought led to a double-digit deficit in the first half, the Golden Eagles used a quick 5-0 spurt to cut the margin in half, 23-18, started on an offensive rebound by Elijah Lufile. The newcomer found freshman Max Abmas for an open triple and Kevin Obanor drove to the basket and scored on a well-executed spin move.
Burns knocked down a pull-up jumper as ORU made it a three-point contest, 25-22, before the Cowboys limited the Golden Eagles and scored the next nine points to close the half leading 39-30.
As the OSU lead swelled to 16 in the second half, ORU turned up the pressure defensively as it held the home side scoreless for more than four minutes and chipped away at the Cowboys lead. Burns and Nzekwesi combined to score all seven points during the stretch as the Golden Eagles made it a 50-41 ballgame with 13:19 remaining in regulation.
After ORU turned it into a two-possession game, Sam Kearns connected from long range and Burns scored again sprinting up the court for the transition basket and the Golden Eagles fought themselves back within one, 68-67, using a 10-2 run.
ORU had a chance to take a late advantage only to see its 3-point bid fall off the rim and the Cowboys scored all of their final eight points inside the last minute at the free throw line to stop the rally.
Quote of the Game
"Down at the half, and down nine with nine to play, I told the guys, it's our job to hit singles, not home runs. We opened the half down nine and tried to hit home runs whenever we needed to hit singles. I thought we eventually chipped away and got better." – Coach Paul Mills
Trailing by nine points with five minutes in regulation, the Golden Eagles refused to back down. Over the next two and a half minutes, ORU scored a 10-2 run to reenergize its bench and get the OSU margin down to a one-shot affair.
Oral Roberts: Burns turned it on down the stretch as the senior took over posting 14 of his team-leading 21 points in the final frame as he shot 50 percent from the floor.
Oklahoma State: Yor Anei led the Cowboys nearly registering a triple-double as the Preseason All-Big 12 selection totaled 13 points, 10 rebounds and eight blocks.
Inside the Box Score
- Nzekwesi joined Burns with 14 points in the second half as the redshirt senior ended with a 16-point, 13-rebound double-double, the 22nd of his career. Five of his game-high rebounds came on the offensive end leading to an 8-for-10 effort at the free throw line.
- Abmas hit three of ORU's seven 3-pointers ending his collegiate debut with 14 points, but the Golden Eagles were held to just 22 percent from long range in the game shooting 7-for-32.
- Fuqua grabbed a career-best nine rebounds to go with six points and four assists in his first game in more than a year after missing all of last season due to injury.
- ORU played in foul trouble most of the evening as four players were whistled for at least four fouls.
News and Notes
- OSU ended the contest with a 34-26 advantage in total chances at the free throw line. ORU hit 19-of-23 foul shots in the second half after only going to the line three times in the first 20 minutes finishing at a 77 percent clip.
- The Golden Eagles fell to 1-2 in season openers under Head Coach Paul Mills.
ORU has its home opener inside the Mabee Center Friday night as part of ORU's 2019 Homecoming celebration. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. following the conclusion of the women's basketball game versus Texas State.
For the latest information on ORU men's basketball, follow @ORUMBB on Twitter or Instagram, or go to www.ORUAthletics.com. Fans can also receive updates on the team by downloading the ORU Athletics Front Row App at ORUAthletics.com/frontrow or the ORU Golden Eagles Live App in iTunes or the Google Play Store. For tickets, visit mabeecenter.com or call 495-7ORU (7678).