Team preview: Oral Roberts

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

Oral Roberts was such a clear-cut favorite before last season, during the season and in the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament to advance to the NCAA Tournament that hardly a thought was given to what if the Golden Eagles didn't make it. But a crazy thing happened in their own backyard.

They ran into the buzz-saw that was Oakland, a team coming together late in the season and boasting two senior stars to lean on—the perfect formula for a shocking upset during tournament week. The 61-60 loss was even more heartbreaking considering the way it ended: on an off-balance, three-point heave by Pierre Dukes with 1.3 seconds left.

"It was just a devastating loss," coach Scott Sutton said. "I couldn't wait to get [this] season going. I really wanted to play that next day."

That startling finish to an otherwise storybook campaign left an unsettling feeling throughout the Oral Roberts ranks.

"It was a very disappointing end to the season," Sutton said.

Actually, the season concluded in the opening round of the NIT after an 85-72 loss to Maryland. But the NIT was not even on the radar as the regular season progressed, what with Oral Roberts atop the conference and a virtual lock to roll through the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament in its hometown of Tulsa.

The Golden Eagles were so dominant they led the conference in scoring, scoring defense, field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage, and rebound margin.