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T-Birds come close vs. Mid-Con favorite

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TULSA, Okla. — Oral Roberts held off Southern Utah for a 73-67 Mid-Continent Conference win Tuesday afternoon in the Thunderbirds' conference opener.

Southern Utah dropped to 7-5, while pre-season Mid-Con favorite Oral Roberts improved to 10-3.

Ken Tutt scored 22 points, including the game-clincher.

He had hit three straight baskets to give the Golden Eagles a 62-49 lead with 9:41 to play, but Southern Utah came back, tying the game at 67-67 on a Curtis Lincoln 3-pointer with 1:25 to go. Tutt hit a pair of free throws to stake the Golden Eagles to a 69-67 lead, however, then Lincoln was called for pushing off in the lane on the other end, giving the ball back to Oral Roberts with 50 seconds to play.

The Golden Eagles had to call two timeouts in the final minute as Southern Utah's pressure defense trapped players with the ball, but Tutt hit a jumper in the lane with three seconds on the shot clock to push the advantage to 71-67 with 18 seconds to play.

Caleb Green blocked Lincoln's layup on Southern Utah's possession, and Moses Ehambe dunked on the other end to account for the final score.

"Tutt's a good player. He made some big-time shots in the second half, and he played especially well down the stretch," SUU coach Bill Evans said. "Our Achilles' heel again was at the foul line," Evans said. "If we even hit 65 percent, we might have a different outcome but we'll keep working on that and hopefully work it out."

Rand Janes hit seven of 10 shots for 15 points to lead three T-Birds in double figures. He also had a team-high four assists and three steals. Tim Gainey chipped in 14 points.