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The Weber State University’ men’s basketball team will head east to Oklahoma this week when they take on Oral Roberts University in the Ramada Bracketbusters on Saturday.
This will the fifth meeting between the two teams, with the overall series tied at 2-2. It will be the first meeting in more than 20 years.
The first meeting was in December 1973 in Oklahoma City, with the Golden Eagles winning 82-79. ORU won again the following season in Ogden, but WSU won the next season in Ogden. The last meeting between the two teams was in December 1991 in Ogden, with the Wildcats winning 115-80.
WSU is 4-5 against teams currently in the Southland Conference.
WSU is coming into the game with the better record. The Wildcats are currently 19-5 overall and 14-2 in the Big Sky, while the Golden Eagles are 17-10 overall with a 12-3 record in the Southland Conference.
The Wildcats have been shooting the ball well and are leading the nation in field goal shooting at 51.3 percent. Last week against Montana State University, WSU finished the game with a 64 percent shooting average.
Head coach Randy Rahe said the men have been playing great basketball at the moment and that he hopes they can ride the momentum to the end of the season.
“This team has been shooting the heck out of the ball,” Rahe said. “We’ve got a pretty good basketball team when we defend . . . and rebound like we’re capable. When we don’t turn the ball over, we’ve got a good team.”
The Wildcats are one of three teams in the nation shooting more than 50 percent from the field, and the only team shooting better than 51 percent. Over the last eight games, WSU has shot more than 54 percent from the field.
A high shooting percentage has been key for WSU this year. The Wildcats are 18-2 this season when outshooting their opponents from the field. Thursday’s 64 percent was the second-best percentage in a game this season and the best against a Division I team. The Wildcats are also third in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage at 42.3 percent.
ORU is 9-3 at home this season and riding a seven-game winning streak at home. The Golden Eagles are shooting 46 percent from the field and 37 percent from 3-point range this year. ORU has made five NCAA Tournament appearances, including trips in three straight years from 2006-08.
Senior Warren Niles has led ORU this season, averaging 19 points and four rebounds per game. The only other senior on the team, center Damen Bell-Holter, has also been strong for the Eagles. He has averaged 16 points per game and is ranked 16th in the nation in rebounding, averaging nearly 10 rebounds a game.
Davion Berry was named Big Sky Player of the Week last week following his performance against MSU. Berry said he has been getting a lot of good shots and his teammates have been helping him a lot offensively.
“We’ve been focused as a team,” Berry said. “I know my shots are going to come. When I get the ball on offense, I’m just trying to knock the shots down.”
After Saturday’s game, the Wildcats will return to Big Sky action and take on California State University, Sacramento on Thursday and Northern Arizona University next Saturday. Their final two regular-season games will be March 7 and 9 against Portland State University and Eastern Washington University.