ORU defense leads to 64-42 victory over No. 8 Xavier

Oral Roberts had 13 steals and held Xavier to just one three-pointer en route to a 64-42 victory Sunday afternoon inside the Cintas Center. ORU (8-4, 1-0) gets to eight wins before Christmas for just the fourth time in school history, and handed eighth-ranked Xavier (8-1) its first loss of the season.

The victory also gave ORU a victory over a top-10 team for the second time in the past five years after taking down No. 3 Kansas 78-71 on November 15, 2006. It was the worst loss for Xavier inside the Cintas Center, which opened for the 2000-01 season, and the worst home loss for the Musketeers since January 23, 2000.

The 13 steals were one off a season-high for the team (14 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff), and ORU was led by Steven Roundtree, who had five take-aways. Michael Craion added three steals, while Damen Bell-Holter added three blocks to the team defense. Offensively, Dominique Morrison led the way with 19 points, while Warren Niles hit two of his first three 3-point attempts to finish with 15 points. Roundtree had 12 points and a team-high eight rebounds.

Travis Taylor led a short-handed Xavier team with 11 points and nine rebounds, while Dee Davis had 10 points. Kenny Frease, the leading scorer in the lineup was held in check with just four points and four turnovers on a 2-of-9 shooting effort.

Trailing by one at the 15:33 mark in the first half, ORU exploded out of the break with a 12-2 run to open up a 16-7 lead. Up 21-14, Niles sparked another rally with five-straight points. Roundtree made it seven straight for the Golden Eagles on a thunderous dunk off a missed shot, and Morrison finished off the 10-0 spurt with another 3-pointer, making it 31-14.

With the Golden Eagles up 36-17, Xavier drove the length of the court to lay the ball in before halftime making it a 36-19 score in favor of ORU at halftime. In that half, ORU turned the ball over just three times but tallied eight steals forcing 12 Xavier turnovers.

ORU also shot 50 percent (5-10) from three and 45.2 percent (14-31) overall in the first half. It was the third time this season in which ORU has held an opponent under 20 points in the first half (Arkansas-Pine Bluff 15, SMU 17).

After scoring the first four points of the second half, ORU seemed content to just hold off Xavier and the lead fluctuated between 21 and 16 over the first eight minutes of the half.

ORU did eventually pull away as Morrison hit a three, then Niles knocked down three free throws and a steal led to a Craion dunk as ORU doubled-up Xavier 56-28 with 7:50 to go in the game.

The Golden Eagles cruised home from there, taking the 64-42 victory over the No. 8 Musketeers.

After four-straight on the road, ORU will return home to face Texas Tech inside the Mabee Center on December 22 for a 7:05 tip-off.