ORU’s Cinderella Run Ends with Sweet 16 Loss – Their Tourney Put Jesus at the Forefront and Faith Under Fire

Oral Roberts University’s Cinderella run in NCAA’s March Madness came to an end Saturday night with a narrow loss to the #3 Arkansas Razorbacks in the Sweet 16 round in Indianapolis, Indiana. 

The Golden Eagles started out dominating the first half of the game after nailing multiple 3-point shots. Both teams were head-to-head during the second half, but Arkansas took home the win with a final score of 72-70. 

Over the past week, ORU’s participation and success has shown the world that Christian colleges can play on equal footing with their state and secular counterparts. 

The #15-ranked ORU stunned the #2-seeded Ohio State University on March 19 in the first round of the men’s NCAA basketball contest, marking ORU’s first tournament win there since 1974. Two days later, the Golden Eagles also upset the #7-ranked Florida Gators, 81 to 78.

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Coach Paul Mills put things into perspective and brought in the gospel message at the same time. 

“In 100 years, none of us will be here. And what our guys need to understand is we’re really not that important. And you need to know that,” Mills said during a press conference. 

He went on to say that the team is grateful for the support of their fans but honoring the name of Jesus Christ is what’s really important.  

“120 million people gather every Sunday and 180 million on Easter gather to celebrate one name, and that is the name of Jesus Christ,” Mills explained. “So to be at an institution that honors that ‘There is no other name under heaven and earth which men must be saved’ – to be at an institution that honors that, and we can give them something to celebrate, at the same time,” the ORU coach said.

Even as Mills displayed modesty and placed the focus on Jesus, the Christian college has undeservedly been mocked and ridiculed for its biblical beliefs, including on LGBT issues. Some on the left are even calling for the NCAA to boot ORU from tournament play altogether because of its biblical stance of sexuality. 

USA Today opinion contributor Dr. Ed Stetzer wrote that the attack against ORU is the “latest example of cancel culture” and that “this is our new reality.”

Dr. Stetzer added, “The calls to remove Oral Roberts from NCAA competition comes against the backdrop of Senate debates over the Equality Act. Proponents of the act want to say the law will just keep the homophobes from harming the rights of LGBTQ+ persons, but that’s neither accurate nor honest. What we are seeing in the news media is what the Equality Act will make into law.” 
 
Sadly, the idea of canceling a college, an organization, or a person over their religious convictions will most likely linger for quite some time as activists signal they’re planning to continue that fight. On the other side, ORU is signaling it will keep focusing on what really matters – salvation through Jesus Christ.

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