Tulsa falls short at Connecticut

Tulsa nearly erased a 20-point second half deficit, but the Golden Hurricane fell short at UConn, 75-73, Saturday evening at Gampel Pavilion.

UConn led 34-21 at the half, and extended its lead to 46-26 with 17:10 left in the game. Tulsa then went on a 23-10 run to cut the deficit to 56-49 with 7:49 to play.

“I am real proud of the guys that they came back and fought after a tough loss to Temple,” said UConn coach Kevin Ollie. “It was a short turnaround and I am glad that we got a substantial lead going into the half because Bird got hot. We stood up to their run, we know they are a good team and knew they were going to make a run, but I am very proud of our guys.”

Pat Birt scored 24 points to lead the Hurricane, which fell to 16-9 overall and 8-5 in American Athletic Conference play. He scored 21 points and five of his six 3-pointers in the second half.

Marquel Curtis tallied 14 points and six rebounds, and Shaquille Harrison added 12 points and seven rebounds. Sterling Gibbs and Omar Calhoun each scored 14 points to lead the Huskies, which improved to 18-7 and 8-4.

“We definitely needed this win real bad,” said UConn’s Daniel Hamilton. “We just wanted to come out and get a win.”

Tulsa shot 60 percent in the second half, including 7-of-11 on 3-pointers, and ended the game with a .481 field goal percentage and a .409 3-point percentage, but made just 14-of-25 free throws. UConn shot 53 percent for the game, including 11-of-24 from beyond the arc, and made 10-of-11 foul shots. The Hurricane finished with a 32-28 rebounding advantage, along with 12 assists and 15 turnovers. TU tallied nine assists and committed just five miscues in the second period, while forcing UConn into 16 turnovers in the game.

On February 10, Tulsa got on one of its biggest wins of the year with an 82-77 victory at No. 16 SMU.

“Obviously it was a huge win for us and our program,” Tulsa coach Frank Haith said. “I have so much respect for SMU and their team. I think they are one of the best teams in the country, so I’m really proud of our guys and how we competed. We showed a lot of resiliency. In the second half we went down eight, and they (SMU) went down nine, so I am just really proud of our guys in how they competed and gave us a chance to win that ball game.”

Shaquille Harrison tallied 21 points and eight assists, James Woodard scored 20 points and Pat Birt put up 17 points.

The Hurricane trailed by as many as eight points with 9:33 remaining, but outscored the Mustangs, 30-17 for the remainder of the game.

Tulsa’s victory snapped a 15-game home winning streak for SMU, including a 12-0 mark at home this season. The win was also Tulsa’s second over a top-25 team this season, its most since the 1999-2000 team won three games against top-25 opponents. It was also Tulsa’s first true road win against a top-25 opponent since it beat No. 5 UCLA in the 1996-97 season opener.