Oklahoma Baptist University's seventh-ranked Bison and sixth-ranked Lady Bison will open the Sooner Athletic Conference basketball season Thursday with their shortest road trip of the season - a jaunt down MacArthur Street to St. Gregory's University.
Both OBU squads will enter W. P. Wood Fieldhouse riding 12-game winning streaks. The ladies have won all 12 of their games this season and the men have not lost since a season-opening shocker at the hands of LSU-Shreveport.
Bison at Cavaliers
OBU (12-1) owns a 13-2 edge in the St. Gregory's series, including wins in the last nine meetings. None of those nine games has seen the Cavaliers finish within 10 points of the Bison.
The contest features the best and worst offenses so far in the SAC. The Bison have averaged 91.7 points per game, but have ranked ninth this season in the SAC in scoring defense, allowing 71.2 points per contest.
The Cavs (4-9) have averaged just 62.4 points per game, but several of their games have been played in NCAA Division I gyms.
Frank Benson is OBU's leading scorer, averaging 16.4 points per game. He's also the leading shooter in the league, canning 65 percent of his attempts. SGU is led by Tarin Baker, who averages 13.5 points per game and is the leading free throw shooter in the SAC at 92 percent.
Projected SGU starters include Patrick Jones (12.8 ppg), Charles Traylor (8.2 ppg), Corey Humphrey (5.8 ppg), Baker and Diogo Mello (5.6 ppg).
OBU has used several starting lineups this season but the players with the most starts have been Robert Hart (15.2 ppg), Leonard Mosley (14.1 ppg), Tyler Ryan (8.1 ppg), Justin Benson (9.6 ppg) and Mike Fraser (8.8 ppg). That group, however, excludes the team's leading scorer (Frank Benson) and its leading rebounder, Andrew Bryant, who is collecting 7.2 boards per game. Bailey Jones and Evan Grace have also played in every game.
Lady Bison at Lady Cavaliers
The OBU women (12-0) hold a 12-3 lead in the series after sweeping both games last season and come into the game on a season-long win streak that is just four off of a school record.
The Lady Cavaliers won their first five games but have dropped the last six and have not played since Dec. 13.
OBU is led by Layla Schwarz, who is third in the SAC in scoring at 16 points and second in the league in rebounding at 7.73 per game. Rachel Heins has come off the bench to average 14.3 points per game (10th in the SAC) and she shoots a team-best 52.3 percent from the field.
The Lady Bison lead the Sooner Athletic Conference in scoring defense at 50 points per game with a league-best 30.4 field goal percentage against. SGU's offense ranks at the bottom of the league at 56.4 points per game with a SAC-worst 35.3 percent shooting percentage.
The probable OBU starters include Schwarz, Tabetha Eaton (9.5 ppg), Trena Robbins (4.8 ppg), Tetyana Klimenko (2.9 ppg) and Priscila Alves (10.3 ppg). Alves missed the last game with a broken hand and might not be available Thursday night. Lena Brenning replaced Alves in the lineup that game.
SGU has juggled its lineup through the first half of the season. The players with the most starts this year have been Lacy Monroe (4.1 ppg), Danya Neugent (9.8 ppg), Kirsten Mueggenborg (9.1 ppg), Cassandra Reed (6.9 ppg) and Jamie Doolin (3.9 ppg). Yuriana Aldana is the team's leading rebounder at 5.7 per game.
OBU's women also lead the SAC in free throw percentage, hitting 74.3 percent of their attempts this season.