COLLEGE MEN'S BASKETBALL: Oakland breezes past UIC | North Oakland Sports

COLLEGE MEN’S BASKETBALL: Oakland breezes past UIC

| February 25, 2015 | Comments (0)



North Oakland Sports

ROCHESTER HILLS — Oakland University continues to grow into the Horizon League, after getting to the summit of the Summit League and powering through the Division II days of the 1990s.

Oakland routed the University of Illinois-Chicago 81-56 Sunday afternoon at the O’rena before another large crowd of 3,781 in its second-to-last home game of the regular season in men’s basketball.

Oakland sophomore point guard Kahlil Felder scored 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting and had a career-best 14 assists, while junior Max Hooper ripped the nets with 6-of-10 three-point shooting and scored 19 points. Felder had all but two of Oakland’s assists (16) in the game.

Oakland (15-14, 10-4) was down 10-0 in the game’s first six possessions, before plowing through UIC’s defense for a 15-14 lead on a lay-in by sophomore point guard Kahlil Felder after Felder competed the 3-point play with a foul shot.

Oakland led 45-27 at the half, and 63-43 with 8:09 left on a layup by senior center Corey Petros (Utica Eisenhower). Petros scored 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as the Golden Grizzlies have a first-round bye in the Horizon League tournament, which starts March 3 (next Tuesday) and Oakland plays Friday March 5 at the regular-season league champion.

Kampe had high praise for his sophomore point guard.

“Tonight was a great example of the growth of a great point guard,” Kampe said. “And I am mad out of my mind that this country could come up with a Bob Cousy watch list and he’s not on it. I just can’t fathom that there are 20 point guards in the country better than K-Felder.”

Hooper, who came into the game averaging six points per game, scored at will beyond the arc, reminding fans of the shooting of Travis Bader. The graduated Bader finished as the all-time Division I 3-point leader last season.

Hooper made four consecutive 3-pointers to put the Golden Grizzlies up 39-20 with 4:23 left in the first half.

Between Hooper’s shooting and Felder’s play, Oakland emerged from that stunning 10-0 hole in the early going against the Flames (7-22, 3-11 Horizon League).

Kampe is optimistic that OU can finish strong — first on Wednesday night against Youngstown State at 7 p.m. at the O’rena and at Wisconsin-Green Bay at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28.

“We’ve now won 10 of 12,” he said. “I don’t see anybody saying anything about us anymore, other than we’ve got a chance to be good. So that’s how you do it. You don’t get mad, you just play and win games.”

Kampe noted that he expects his team to come out hard against Youngstown State.

“Senior night — I think we’ve lost one time on senior night, maybe two. But I suspect we’re going to play. These kids got a lot to play for.”

Towards the end of Sunday’s press conference after the game, Kampe asked if Cleveland State had beaten Milwaukee.

Did Cleveland State win? If Cleveland State loses today (Cleveland State lost Sunday 66-60) we’ve got to win a championship,” he said.

Kampe said Felder was on top of his game Sunday.

“We came out and looked like a 10 o’clock in the morning practice and (Felder) said ‘O.K., I’m not going to let this happen,” Kampe said. “Like that he started scoring and he took shots, he checked shots, and he missed a couple, but I didn’t care. He was changing the game.”

n The Horizon League semifinals are March 7 at the No. 1 seed and the championship game is Tuesday March 10 at 6 p.m. with a bid to the NCAA tournament at stake. The last time Oakland made the NCAAs was after the 2010-11 season, losing to Texas.

n Oakland improved to 7-0 in Horizon League home games this season and 11-3 overall at the O’rena. OU is 163-59 in 16 seasons in Division I at the O’rena, since the 1997-98 season. In that first game, Oakland lost to Michigan State 96-66.

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