Swilling, Ray unexpected stars in Hurricane victory
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Thursday, December 06, 2012
12/06/12 at 3:26 AM
Related story: TU basketball notebook: TU in Alaska.
As of mid-morning on Wednesday, University of Tulsa basketball coach Danny Manning reported that freshman guard Rashad Ray would not play against Missouri State because of a sprained knee.
Still recovering from preseason surgery to repair his fractured left wrist, TU's Pat Swilling Jr. was cleared by team doctors to play for the first time this season - "but only for a minute or two," Manning said.
During Wednesday night's contest at the Reynolds Center - a 61-42 Golden Hurricane victory over Missouri State - Ray and Swilling did far more than make cameo appearances. In 16 minutes, Ray scored 11 points. In 19 minutes, Swilling scored 11 points.
Freshman guard Shaq Harrison had a nice stat line - 10 points, seven rebounds, four assists - as the Hurricane ended a two-game losing streak while improving to 5-3.
Swilling, a junior-college transfer whose college career began at Division I St. Joseph's University, and Ray both hail from New Orleans. They are two of the eight first-year members of the Tulsa program.
"Coming off of two losses in a row (against Stephen F. Austin and Wichita State), we just wanted to end the skid in any way necessary," Swilling said. "I think the most important thing is not how we did it, but that we did win."
Said Manning of the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Swilling: "Pat brings some toughness. He's been at a Division I school before. He's played at a really tough (junior college, the College of Southern Idaho). He's got great understanding of the game.
"Pat's not afraid to shoot the ball or afraid to go make a play. Tonight, he gets us going. The two guys from New Orleans jump-started us, coming off the bench."
Last week, a TU doctor told Swilling that he would not be cleared to play until January. On Sunday, Swilling was on the receiving end of a more encouraging telephone call.
"I got word from the doctor that I could start practicing," Swilling said. "Yesterday after practice, (Manning) asked me how I felt. I told him I felt well. It was still sore, of course ... but I told him I'd be able to play."
When it was mentioned that he played 19 minutes, Swilling said, "Adrenaline carried me through it. I'm still not in the shape that I want to be in, but I want to be there."
Ray sustained a knee injury during last week's loss at Wichita State. Manning so completely expected Ray to miss Tuesday's game that the freshman didn't even participate in the afternoon shoot-around. Instead, Ray got treatment on the sore knee. Apparently, the knee responded well.
"I was glad that Rashad Ray was able to fight through it and give us some minutes," Manning said.
"I was stiff at times and in pain sometimes when I made the sharp cuts on the court," Ray said after the game. "That's usually what I do - I change directions real fast."
Swilling said Ray was able to play in spite of pain because "he's from New Orleans, man. He's tough."
While TU was offensively inconsistent against Missouri State, its defense was unwaveringly effective. The Bears (2-6) shot 29 percent from the field overall and 1-of-19 on 3-point attempts.
"The ball doesn't go in the basket, and that can be deflating," Missouri State coach Paul Lusk said.
Forward Drew Wilson, who played in high school at Tulsa's East Central, was Missouri State's leading scorer with 11 points.
Tulsa led by only six points (28-22) at halftime, but finally surged to its first 10-point lead at the 14-minute mark of the second half, when Harrison scored at the end of an extremely athletic baseline drive. With 4:59 left to play, Swilling's 3-pointer from the right corner pushed the Hurricane advantage to 53-39.
In its only other home game in December, the Hurricane hosts TCU at noon Saturday.
TU up next
Vs. TCU 12:05 p.m. Saturday
Original Print Headline: Unexpected stars
Bill Haisten 918-581-8397
Missouri State's Keith Pickens passes as Tulsa's Pat Swilling Jr. defends during the second half of TU's win Wednesday over Missouri State. Swilling scored 11 points for the Hurricane. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World
TU's Rashad Ray knocks the ball away from Missouri State's Dorrian Williams during Wednesday's game. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World