A late burst by Michigan doomed Tulsa as the Golden Hurricane were eliminated in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 16 in Dayton, Ohio.
Tulsa, the last team to get an at-large bid, was neck and neck with the Wolverines until the final two minutes when Michigan pulled ahead and won, 67-62.
“Obviously I thought our guys played their hearts out,” said TU coach Frank Haith. “I thought we — Michigan had more breaks than us. There were a couple of plays there you can point out where there was a loose ball and it bounces to the big kid and he dunks it. And then we have one. And it just doesn’t go our way.
“They bank a 3 in at the clock. And 21 hit a big shot. And then we just didn’t — we didn’t have those kind of breaks. And that’s usually what happens in these types of games.
“Give Michigan credit. But our defense was excellent. I thought we took the lead there with Shaq (Harrison) hit the dunk and then we came down, we fouled a 3-point shooter, and I thought we had momentum right there. But these seniors busted their tail all year, and I’m proud of the kind of year we had.”
Tulsa closed out the campaign with an overall 20-12 mark.
Harrison had a game-high 23 points, but was the only Tulsa player in double-figures. He also added seven rebounds and five assists for the Hurricane.
Harrison said TU tried to concentrate during the final minutes.
“Honestly, (we were) just trying to keep the team together, everybody still focused,” Harrison said. “Like coach said, the ball bounced their way a couple times, but you can’t get flustered by that. You’ve got to keep playing no matter what. Like hopefully some balls go our ways as I look at it. But unfortunately it didn’t. I give credit to Michigan. Not only the ball’s going their way; they played a great game.”
Michigan had four players score in double digits, led by 16 points apiece from Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Zak Irvin.
TU’s plan was to limit three-point shots.
“Going in, we put emphasis on guarding the 3-point line and guarding our man, keeping the ball in front of us,” Harrison said “I feel like my team they did great in that category today. We prepared well for it and it carried over onto the court.”
“I agree with Shaq,” said TU’s Brandon Swannegan. “We practiced, high hands on shooters, take away their vision. And that’s what we did. And I think it carried over to the game very well. And I just think that’s what happened.”
Tulsa had a first-half season-low of 20 points and trailed by eight points at the half.
For the game, the Hurricane ended with a better shooting percentage than the Wolverines, 44.6-percent to 40.7 percent, but made just 3-of-15 three pointers. Two of those treys came within the first three minutes of the game by James Woodard and Harrison.
Michigan had a 38-36 edge in rebounding and made 81-percent of its free throws (13-of-16) to just 60-percent for the Hurricane (9-of-15). It was also a game that saw 16 lead changes and nine ties.
Tulsa scored 42 second-half points to take a one-point lead, 60-59, with 1:08 left in the game. But, Michigan’s Irvin knocked down a three-pointer to give the Wolverines a 62-60 lead at the 0:53 mark. On the subsequent Tulsa possession, Pat Birt missed a 10-foot jumper. Down the stretch, UM converted 5-of-6 free throws to claim the five-point win.
After halftime, Tulsa went on a 12-4 run in the first three minutes of the second half. Harrison’s traditional three-point play tied the game at 32-32 with 17:34 on the clock. Tulsa would match its first half total of 20 points in nearly the first eight minutes of the game when Harrison’s layup knotted the score at 40-40 with 11:59 remaining in the contest.
Rashad Ray’s free throws put Tulsa ahead 45-44 at the 8:57 mark, but the Wolverines answered with six straight points to take a 51-45 lead with 7:38 left in the game. Tulsa retook the lead at 54-53 on a D’Andre Wright layup at the 4:24 mark. The Hurricane would get the lead two more times at 56-55 and for the last time at 60-59.
The second half was quite different for the Hurricane, but in the last minute it was the Wolverines that made more plays. Tulsa shot 51.6 percent in the second half, out-rebounded Michigan 20 to 15, while grabbing eight offensive rebounds to five for the Wolverines. Tulsa trailed at halftime 28-20 after Michigan’s Derrick Walton Jr. scored a three-pointer with 0:08 before the intermission. The Hurricane scored only four points in the final 9:59 of the first half.
Tulsa was led by Harrison’s seven points in the first half, while Walton led the Wolverines with 10 first-half points.
Michigan did a thorough job of scouting the Golden Hurricane.
” We watched in two days a ton of Tulsa film,” said Michigan coach John Beilein. “We have so much respect for that team. Those seniors on that team, they deserve to be in the NCAA Tournament. They proved it. They’re really a difficult matchup for us. They drove me crazy with trying to figure out how to guard their quickness, how to guard those three left-handed guards at one time, and they were terrific today.
“And so were our guys. We couldn’t make a shot. We just played Thursday, Friday, Saturday, traveled back Sunday, and then all of a sudden we’re playing again. I think we felt it a little bit but we didn’t feel it in the last couple of minutes when we made all the right plays.”