Tulsa hosts C-USA men’s/women’s basketball tourneys

March 14, 2013

Regular season champion Memphis is the No. 1 seed at the 2013 Conference USA Men’s Basketball Championship being played here through March 16.

Host Tulsa is the No. 6 seed and will play East Carolina at 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

TU lost to ECU 83-75 on Feb. 20 at home in the only meeting of the two teams this season.

“That was a game of runs, a game of swings,” ECU coach Jeff Lebo said after the game. “It was kind of an odd game, but I was really proud of my team at the end. We’ve lost some heartbreaking games with runs, but we actually won this one. We were aided by Tulsa’s rough night from the foul line, but it was a big win for us on the road. We’ve never won here. I thought we did some nice things down the stretch, but Tulsa played well. We had a nice start, but Tulsa fought back. We just made some key shots down the stretch. Akeem Richmond made some big threes in particular.”

“When you shoot 32 percent from the free throw line, it’s hard to beat anybody,” said TU coach Danny Manning. “You look at the stat sheet and we have more points in the paint, we have more points off of turnovers, we have more second chance points, we have more fast break points. Their bench hurt us and the free throw line hurt us, among other things. I don’t want to take any credit away from East Carolina and what Jeff Lebo did, but we just have to step up to the free-throw line and shoot our free throws and making them. Also knowing the scouting report, we should know where the shooters are. We lost Richmond far too many times. He had 11 threes coming off the bench. That’s far too many when we know he’s a shooter going into the game.”

Memphis, C-USA regular season champions for the sixth time in eight years, has an overall record of 27-4 and a 16-0 mark in C-USA. That marks the fourth time in seven seasons that Memphis has finished undefeated in league play.

Memphis (21-2 in its last 23 C-USA Tournament games), No. 2 Southern Miss, No. 3 UTEP, No. 4 East Carolina and No. 5 Tulsa all have first-round byes. With UCF being ineligible for postseason play, five teams received opening round byes.

In Thursday’s quarterfinal round, second-seeded Southern Miss will take on the winner of the UAB-SMU game at 12 p.m. and No. 3 UTEP will face the winner of the Houston-Rice match-up beginning at 2:30 p.m. Top seed Memphis will battle either Tulane or Marshall at 6 p.m., while No. 4 East Carolina will close out Thursday night against Tulsa at 8:30 p.m. All four quarterfinal games will be televised by CBS Sports Network.

In Wednesday games, UAB (15-16, 7-9) played SMU (15-16, 5-11). The Blazers, who have won four of their last six games, are led by forward Rod Rucker, the team’s leading scorer (14.5) and rebounder (8.3). The Mustangs are coached by Larry Brown who is the only coach to win an NCAA and NBA title. SMU features sophomore guard Ryan Manuel, who averages 12.3 points per game, while hitting 81.3 percent of his free throws.

Cross-town rivals Houston (18-11, 7-9) and Rice (5-25, 1-15) played in the second game on Wednesday Cougars’ sophomore guard Joseph Young, who scored a career-high 32 points in the regular season finale vs. Tulane, is now Conference USA’s leading scorer at 18.5 per game and also averages 19.4 points in league games. Owls senior guard Tamir Jackson had 30 points against Tulsa in the final regular season game and is fourth in the conference in scoring at 17.3 points per game. Houston sophomore forward TaShawn Thomas is fifth in C-USA scoring at 15.5, meaning three of the league’s top five scorers will played in this game.

Tulane (19-12, 7-9) and Marshall (13-18, 6-10) played in the final game on Wednesday. Tulane is paced by junior forward Josh Davis, the conference’s top rebounder (10.3 rpg) who is third in scoring (17.5 ppg). The Herd, who finished as the runner-up in last year’s C-USA Championship, are led by junior guard DeAndre Kane. He is the league’s top playmaker, averaging 7.1 assists per game, while scoring at a 14.9 clip. All games will be played at the BOK Center in downtown Tulsa, site of the 2010 C-USA Championship, won by Houston.

Tulsa has been in seven C-USA tournaments with two trips to the finals (2008 and 2009) with no championships. The Golden Hurricane have made it to the semifinals four times (2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011) with four all-tournament selections.

The lowest seed to ever win the C-USA Tournament was No. 9 Saint Louis versus No. 3 seed Depaul in 2000. Neither school is still in the conference.

Memphis recently has dominated the all-tournament team with three players selected in 2012, 2009, 2007 and 2006. Memphis hosted the tournament in 2012 – the eighth time.

Tulsa has hosted twice, this year and in 2010.

Men’s Final Regular Season Standings

1. Memphis 16-0, 27-4

2. Southern Mississippi 12-4, 23-8

3. UTEP 10-6, 17-13

4. Central Florida 9-7, 20-11

4. East Carolina 9-7, 18-11

6. Tulsa 8-8, 16-14

7. Houston 7-9, 18-11

7. Alabama-Birmingham 7-9, 15-16

9. Tulane 6-10, 18-13

9. Marshall 6-10, 13-18

11. Southern Methodist 5-11, 15-16

12. Rice 1-15, 5-25

TU Women played Rice Wednesday night

The Tulsa women’s team (13-16, 8-8 in C-USA) played Rice (14-15, 6-10) Wednesday. The winner of that game will play Tulsa (22-7, 11-5) at 5 p.m. Thursday in the Tulsa Convention Center.

“We had two really close games with Rice,” TU coach Matilda Mossman said before the game. “Each team won at home and now we are going to play on a neutral floor so it is anyone’s game. At this point, it is about the teams that want to be there and want to continue to play, and I hope our team is one of those teams.”

Mossman was happy to host the tournament.

“This time of year, bodies are worn down from the amount of travel we have to do during the season, and the fact that we don’t have to travel is an advantage,” she said. “Our kids can sleep in their own beds and be in familiar surroundings. With the potential to play four games in four days and not having to travel is to our advantage.”