Tulsa may need a few wins in this week’s American Athletic Conference Tournament to get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Winning the AAC Tournament would give the No. 3 seeded Golden Hurricane an automatic bid. According to recent RPI rankings, Tulsa was No. 54. ESPN.com ranks TU as one of the top four bubble teams should they not win the league tournament.
Wins over SMU and Cincinnati help make the case for Tulsa but a loss to ORU on Dec. 5 is a negative factor.
Tulsa will face No. 6 seed Memphis at 8 p.m. Friday in the quarterfinal round at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. Tulsa lost to Memphis 82-92 on Feb. 28.
Memphis blasted East Carolina 83-53 Saturday as Avery Woodson hit a career-high six three-point shots and the Tigers shot 54 percent from the field. Memphis has lost seven out of their last 11 games.
A first-round win would pit TU against the winner of the Houston/Tulane or UCF game at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Tulsa ended the year in a three-way tie with Houston and Cincinnati for third place but was granted the No. 3 seed due to tiebreakers. SMU is ineligible for postseason play and Houston got the No. 2 seed while Cincinnati was No. 4.
Temple was the regular season champion.
TU is 12-4 over its last 16 contests, and has reached 20 wins for the 23rd time in program history, and the third year in a row.
Tulsa’s game will follow the contest between No. 2-seed Houston and the winner of No. 7 UCF and No. 10 Tulane, which begins at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.
Brandon Swannegan scored a career-high 21 points in the final regular season game for nine Tulsa seniors at the Donald W. Reynolds Center Saturday afternoon as the Golden Hurricane pulled out an 84-74 win over USF on Senior Day.
Tulsa closed out the regular season with a 20-10 record and 12-6 league mark. USF fell to 7-24 overall and 4-14 in conference play.
Fellow seniors James Woodard and Shaquille Harrison added 18 and 15 points, respectively, while junior Pat Birt had 12 points. Swannegan was 6-of-6 from the field and 9-of-12 from the free throw line for his 21 points and added seven rebounds in 21 minutes. In two career games at the Reynolds Center against the Bulls, Swannegan has totaled 33 points, 22 rebounds and five blocked shots.
USF freshman Jahmal McMurray led the Bulls with 20 points, while Nehemias Morillo added 17 points.
“I thought it was a really, really good win,” said Tulsa coach Frank Haith. “I thought our guys handled themselves well with all the things we did differently in terms of the senior ceremony before the game and the emotions of the last game for nine seniors. I think it showed early in the game we were a little tight, but in the second half I thought we were really good and give South Florida credit.
“ They shot the ball really well and made some really tough shots, but they came in and played with a lot of confidence. It was a big win for us and I am proud of these two guys, they were terrific. Brandon had a career game and obviously Shaq was outstanding down the stretch.”
After a dismal shooting performance in the first half, Tulsa rebounded in the final 20 minutes by making 60-percent of its field goals and 50-percent from three-point range to finish the game shooting 44-percent from the field and 29-percent from behind the arc. USF ended the game knocking down 41-percent of its shots and 50-percent from three-point range.
The Hurricane turned the ball over just three times in the second half after six first-half turnovers, and forced the Bulls into 11 second-half turnovers after just two in the first 20 minutes.
Tulsa senior Nick Wood, starting his first career game on Senior Day, scored the first two points for the Hurricane, which was the only Tulsa field goal in the first five minutes of the game.
In the first half, Tulsa shot a paltry 29 percent from the field, making just 9-of-31 field goals, and 17.6 percent from behind the arc, converting just 3-of-17 treys.