Clarksville, Ark.-The U of O men?s basketball team held off a late rally by Texas-Tyler to open the American Southwest Conference season with a 64-61 win Saturday.
The Eagles (3-1, 1-0 ASC) led the entire second half until Texas-Tyler (1-2, 0-1 ASC) took a 61-59 advantage with 2:40 remaining in the game on Travis Dykman’s jumper. Ozarks then tied the game on a pair of Kelby Robinson free throws at the two minute mark and later went ahead 63-61 on Kris McCrary’s inside bucket with 40 seconds left. Ricky Allen would later hit a free throw to give Ozarks a three-point cushion. Ozarks led by as many as ten points with less than ten minutes to play before Texas-Tyler trimmed the deficit to 56-54 with 6:04 left.
“I like what our guys did today,” said head coach David Ferrell. “We stuck with what we were supposed to do and kept fighting and were fortunate to come out ahead.”
The Eagles maintained a 33-27 halftime edge after shooting 53 percent from the field. An Andrew Cummings’ layup at the 8:09 mark of the first half gave Ozarks a 20-11 lead. After Texas-Tyler cut the deficit to five points, Ozarks gained the momentum back on back-to-back shots from Jordan Kuluanga. Kuluanga finished 5-for-6 with 10 points in the first half.
“I thought Ricky had a solid game,” said Ferrell. “We had different guys that scored in bunches and that was a big key today. It was important for us to start the conference season with a win. Now we just want to focus on our next game.”
Ozarks hit only 6-of-17 (35%) from the free throw line and had four players reach double figures in scoring. Kuluanga had a team-high 12 points. Ted Beard IV added 11 points and Robinson and Allen each contributed 10 points. Allen finished with 13 assists.
Ozarks will host East Texas Baptist University December 2, Hardin-Simmons University December 5 and Texas-Dallas December 7. Each game will be carried live on KXIO 106.9 FM and on U of O’s athletic department’s Ustream channel.