TU undefeated in C-USA action

January 16, 2014

After a slow start to the season, Tulsa seems to be hitting stride at the beginning of play in Conference USA.

The Golden Hurricane slipped past Southern Mississippi 75-71 Sunday in Tulsa to go to 2-0 in league play. That gave TU an overall record of 7-9 and a share of the early lead in C-USA.

Tulsa had four double-figure scorers, led by James Woodard’s 18 and Pat Swilling’s 17 points. and D’Andre Wright added 10 points for the Hurricane, while Jerrold Brooks led four double-digit scorers for the Golden Eagles with 15 points.

“We played a great game today on the defensive side of the ball and executed when it counted. Both teams really put everything into the game. There was a high level of intensity and a lot of effort. At the end of the day, I thought it was a pretty fun game,” said Tulsa coach Danny Manning. “We went into the game knowing that this was going to be a defensive battle. It was going to be a grind. Southern Miss is physical and plays great defense and to beat them is big.”

Swilling was just 4-of-12 from three-point range, but each of his treys built momentum.

“Pat has a short memory,” said Manning. “That is the way all good shooters are. They just can’t remember their misses. Pat has that mentality. Every shot is a new experience. He takes tough shots. We always want him to be aggressive, and he certainly was today.”

Tulsa opened Conference USA play with a comfortable 97-71 win over the Tulane Green Wave in the league opener for both schools Jan. 9 at the Donald W. Reynolds Center.

Tulsa had all five starters score in double-figures as Shaquille Harrison led the way with a career-high 23 points, while Wright scored 18 points, Lew Evans 14, Tim Peete 12 and Woodard 11 points.

The 26-point victory was the largest in the Manning era for a Conference USA contest, beating the previous biggest margin of 15 points coming last year at Houston. It also marked the fourth time this season that Tulsa has gone over the 90-point barrier, the most for a Hurricane team since the 2001-02 season.

“When you shoot the ball well it makes up for a multitude of sins,” Manning said. “For me, when I look at the stat sheet, they shot 48 percent from the field. You’re not going to beat a lot of teams if they shoot 48 percent from the field in your own building,” said Manning. “We shot 57 percent and that covers up a lot of things defensively for us. But, defensively we have to do a much better job than 48 percent field goal percentage defense.”

Tulsa plays on the road at the UNC Charlotte 49ers at 6 p.m. on Jan 16 and against Marshall Thundering Herd on Saturday. The Marshall game will be televised at 11 a.m. on CBS Sports Network (Cox 249).