Tulsa looks to keep up momentum at ECU
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Saturday, January 14, 2012
1/14/12 at 4:27 AM
College basketball's toughest test is playing away from home.
Even the strongest teams have trouble with road games. Escaping an opponent's gym with a victory is good reason to celebrate.
Tulsa has played some of its best basketball away from the Reynolds Center this season. In five road games, the Golden Hurricane has won twice (Jackson State, TCU) and lost three tight contests (overtime setbacks against Missouri State and Houston and a three-point decision to Oklahoma State).
The Hurricane will test its road warrior mentality in Saturday's contest at East Carolina. Start time for the Conference USA game is noon.
TU coach Doug Wojcik said the first win against pesky Jackson State - the Hurricane had to rally from a second-half deficit - helped his team with the challenges of playing on the road.
"It was scary, but we got a road win early at Jackson and got that monkey off our back early," Wojcik said. "We tested ourselves on a neutral floor at Charleston (an early-season tournament).
"I do think we are a team that's big enough, strong enough and versatile enough to go into someone else's place and compete and win a game on the road."
The Hurricane (8-9 overall, 1-2 in C-USA) will carry confidence into Greenville, N.C., following Wednesday's 59-48 win over UTEP. It was the team's first double-digit victory since a Nov. 17 triumph over Western Kentucky (65-49).
"It's important to keep momentum into this game because we've been up and down this season," said D.J. Magley, coming off his first start this year. "To get a win, especially in conference, was a big deal. We're going to try to go with it and keep feeling like we do now."
East Carolina (9-6, 0-2) has been off for a week. The Pirates dropped an 81-63 home decision to UCF on Jan. 7.
ECU is paced by Miguel Paul, a transfer from Missouri. The junior guard is averaging 16.2 points per game (third in the league) and is dishing 5.7 assists a contest, which is best in C-USA.
"He's going to take a lot of shots, and they are going to set a lot of ball screens for him," Wojcik said. "He can shoot it with range, and he can obviously take it to the rim. He's definitely a problem for anybody. The key is trying to control him or corral him."
Tulsa's Steven Idlet said the team had good practices leading up to the UTEP victory and that trend continued before the ECU trip.
With 13 league games remaining, he understands there is plenty of basketball remaining.
"You can't go into panic mode," Idlet said. "You have to stay calm. Coach is doing a good job with us about that."
TU up next
At East Carolina • Noon Saturday
Radio: KRMG fm102.3, am740
Original Print Headline: TU looks to keep up momentum at ECU
Eric Bailey 918-581-8391
Steven Idlet gets around UT-Arlington's Jordan Reeves during a Dec. 17 game. Idlet said the Hurricane has had good practices this week in preparation for games against UTEP and East Carolina. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World