By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
Missouri Southern’s third week of preseason basketball workouts includes two exhibition games against NCAA Division I teams.
The Lions take the floor for the first time tonight against Oral Roberts University. Tipoff is at 7 at the Mabee Center in Tulsa.
Then on Sunday afternoon, the Lions journey to Columbia to play the Missouri Tigers.
“It’s a great experience for our guys,” Lions coach Robert Corn said. “They are excited for the opportunity to play against Division I people they will see on TV.”
ORU is the preseason favorite in the Southland Conference. The Golden Eagles return two starters — Warren Niles (6-foot-5 senior guard) and Damien Bell-Holter (6-9 forward/center) — and league sixth man of the year Steven Roundtree (6-8 junior forward) from last year’s 27-7 squad.
ORU also received 1 point — one 25th place vote — in the Associated Press’ preseason top-25 poll.
Guards Mikey Manghum and Jake Literas also played significant minutes for the Golden Eagles last season. As many as eight players could see their first action for ORU tonight.
The Lions also have eight new players along with six returnees from last year’s team that finished 22-8. They are picked sixth in the MIAA coaches preseason poll and fourth in the media poll.
Juniors Marquis Addison and Jordan Talbert are the Lions’ two returning starters. Joining them in tonight’s lineup will be sophomore R.J. Leverette at point guard, junior Matt Everson at the 2-guard and junior Bryan Adams at center.
“The big thing is to make sure we play hard and execute,” Corn said. “It could be a situation when we execute our offense perfectly and not make the shot, but we’re pleased with where we are in that regard. Defensively we could be in perfect position to make a play, but they are better athletes and make the play over us.
“Those are things you live with. If you execute offensively and defensively against these teams, then we can make enough plays when we get to playing guys who are the same caliber of athletes in our conference.”