TU drops taller Central Florida

James Woodard and Brandon Swannegan had 18 and 17 points, respectively, as the Golden Hurricane pulled away for a 75-60 win over the UCF Knights Sunday afternoon.

Tulsa improved to 5-2 in the American Athletic Conference and 13-6 overall, while the loss for UCF was only its second league loss, as the Knights fell to 4-2 in league play and 10-7 overall. Tulsa played at Houston Wednesday night.

Despite a size disadvantage that saw UCF’s two big men average 7-3 and 312 pounds (Tulsa’s two big men standing 6-9, 226 pounds), the Hurricane had a 43-38 rebound advantage. Tulsa also had an 18-7 edge on the offensive glass and a 30-28 scoring advantage in the paint.

“I thought that was a really good win for us. I have a lot of respect for Central Florida, and they are off to a great start this year. We didn’t shoot the ball well, but we did a lot of other things really good. We missed a lot of shots around the hoop and a lot of open threes, but obviously our offensive rebounding was outstanding,” said Tulsa coach Frank Haith.

The Hurricane shot only 35-percent from the field, compared to 45-percent for the Knights. Tulsa forced 19 turnovers, while outscoring UCF 18-2 off of those miscues. On the other side, Tulsa had just a season-low five turnovers in the game.

Pat Birt and Rashad Ray each chipped in 12 points for the Hurricane, while Woodard added team-highs of 10 rebounds and six assists. Woodard’s first nine points came on free throw.

He didn’t score his first field goal until nailing a three-pointer from the corner with 8:15 left in the game. Swannegan added eight rebounds, including seven on the offensive glass.

“Brandon had seven offensive rebounds, and Rashad Smith had five. We had 15 assists and only five turnovers, and you are going to have good production when you don’t turn the ball over and get good shots. We got stops when we needed to from a defensive standpoint. It was just a really good win, and I thought that our guys play extremely hard and they deserve it,”  said Haith.