Rich Tortorelli, Assistant Athletic Director for Communications
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma City University kept John Brown (Ark.) at bay, 76-72, on Thursday night at Abe Lemons Arena.
Xavier Smith, a senior from Richardson, Texas, powered OCU with 22 points. The Stars, ranked 18th in NAIA Division I men’s basketball, moved to 17-6, 8-5 in the Sooner Athletic Conference.
Smith posted his 12th double-double of the season by grabbing 11 rebounds and rejecting five John Brown shots. Tyler Alderman, a senior from Fishers, Ind., piled up 17 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots while hitting 7 of his 9 shots from the floor for Oklahoma City.
The Stars’ Lou Dunbar, a junior from Seabrook, Texas, chipped in nine points, four assists and three treys. Smith nailed free throws with seven seconds left to help OCU clinch the victory.
Brandon Joseph of John Brown sank a trey to cut OCU’s lead to 74-72 with 11 seconds left. Jake Caudle had a bucket that sliced the Stars’ edge to 69-67 at the 1:43 mark, but Dunbar answered with a 3 to keep OCU in front.
OCU limited John Brown to 40.7 percent shooting from the floor and 26.7 percent from 3-point range. In the first half, the Stars held John Brown to a 34.8 percent field-goal percentage. The Stars completed the season sweep of John Brown. OCU knocked off John Brown 84-76 on Dec. 1 in Siloam Springs, Ark.
“We watched clips from when we played them in December, and we were a completely different basketball team than we were on Saturday against Texas Wesleyan,” OCU coach Vinay Patel said. “We did some compare and contrast on here’s when we were really playing well and this is what we did Saturday. I thought we made some good steps as far as defense in this basketball game.”
Oklahoma City seized a 10-0 early advantage. The Stars shot 5-for-6 from the field, while John Brown missed its first three shots from the floor. Alderman scored six of OCU’s points during that stretch, giving the Stars a 10-0 lead with a jumper with 16:49 left in the first half.
Jonathan Reed extended the Stars’ advantage to 21-7 with a jumper midway through the first period for OCU’s largest lead of the game.
“I really thought we played with a ton of energy especially early in the basketball game,” Patel said. “I was fired up how we came out defensively. That’s something we really, really harped on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday was our energy, our intensity on defense pressuring the basketball. I thought we did a good job in December against them by really pressuring them out where probably they like to run their offense. Any time we can get a start like that, it just really feeds off the energy of what we’re doing defensively. That’s what helped us.”
The Stars face Bacone at 5 p.m. Saturday in Muskogee, Okla.