In an effort to halt a four-game slide, the Golden Eagles of Oral Roberts close out their portion of the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic against the Rice Owls today at the South Point Hotel Events Center.
The trip to Sin City has been anything but fun for Oral Roberts, the team registering its two lowest scoring efforts of the entire season the past two days. On Tuesday, the team opened with a 69-56 loss to Miami and then followed that up with a disappointing 52-49 setback versus Arkansas-Little Rock yesterday. ORU has not won since defeating IUPUI in Summit League action back on Dec. 4 by a score of 63-61.
Meanwhile, the Owls posted back-to-back wins to begin this tourney, taking down both UALR and Stetson, the former coming at home a week ago, but on Wednesday Rice saw a three-game win streak come to an end with a 73-67 loss to Miami-Florida. If not for the victory over the Hatters (66-63) two days ago, the Owls would still be winless away from home.
Rice claimed victory in both of the previous meetings between these two programs, the most recent of those coming in 1995 when the Owls took an 83-72 decision in Houston.
Oral Roberts actually led by seven points at the break against the Trojans yesterday, but then the offense failed to come out for the second half, the group posting just 21 points, en route to the three-point loss. Damen Bell- Holter accounted for a team-best 16 points and Steven Roundtree registered a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds, but there was simply no way for the team to overcome a mere 2-of-15 shooting effort behind the three-point line and 32 percent from the field overall. After 12 games the Golden Eagles have a total of four players scoring in double figures, beginning with Dominique Morrison and his 16.8 ppg. Warren Niles (12.7 ppg), Bell-Holter (11.5 ppg) and Roundtree (11.5 ppg) round out the list, with the last two also pacing the program on the glass with 7.2 rpg apiece.
Arsalan Kazemi registered a huge double-double for the Owls with his 26 points and 14 rebounds, yet even that was not enough to get Rice over the hump in its meeting with Miami yesterday. Lucas Kuipers added 12 points, shooting 3-of-5 behind the three-point line, and Tamir Jackson 11 points to go along with his six assists in the setback. Kazemi, the leading scorer for the program in six straight outings, is averaging a double-double at the moment with his 16.9 ppg and 10.9 rpg, both of which easily pace an Owls group that is beating opponents on the glass by an average of close to five rebounds per contest. Jackson accounts for another 12.4 ppg and has been getting his teammates involved in the action with better than three assists per outing as well.
All of these quick turnarounds can't be easy for either of these teams, but with a sagging offense it appears to be hitting ORU rather hard which means the Owls should be able to get back into the win column today.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Rice 69, Oral Roberts 55