Eli Linton is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the Oral Roberts vs. Tulsa game on Sunday.
A bigger upset than you might think happened in a relatively obscure part of the mid-major world on Sunday when Oral Roberts celebrated a 74-68 non-conference road victory on the floor of their cross-town rival, Tulsa. Oral Roberts was able to overcome an abysmal shooting night (38 percent from the field) and the loss of Shawn Glover, their lone senior (fouled out with four minutes left in the game), and they did it by outrebounding the Golden Hurricane by 17 rebounds despite not having a starter over 6′ 7″. Tulsa also did its part by missing 19 free throws and going a horrific 1-of-9 from three-point territory.
It was a sloppy game by both teams — what you might expect for a season opener — but there were also some important takeaways from this game. Both programs found themselves in a similar place before their 49th meeting: They are coached by men who come from Bill Self’s growing coaching tree, and can’t help but bring great expectations with that experience. Both schools have tasted some historical NCAA Tournament success and are looking to end long droughts, and both programs find themselves under a lot of pressure to produce for fan bases that measure success through conference championships and NCAA berths. The two schools are even more connected by the fact that they are mid-major schools from the same city, usually lost in the preseason discussion of potential “Cinderella” teams that are doing their best to keep that dream alive and stay relevant in the never-ending realignment of the power conferences. Each will need to win its conference championship to have any hope of earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
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