Poor start dooms TU as UAB gets road victory
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Thursday, February 07, 2013
2/07/13 at 7:05 AM
Related story: TU basketball notebook: Diminished roster.
For the University of Tulsa, this Conference USA basketball defeat could be chronicled in three chapters.
There was a dismal start.
By the 4:45 mark of the first half, UAB had a 24-point lead over the Golden Hurricane.
There was a comeback.
Driven by the energy and playmaking of freshman guard Rashad Ray, TU rallied to within four points (56-52) with nine minutes remaining.
There was a poor finish.
Down the stretch, Tulsa's execution unraveled. After fighting to within four points of the Blazers, the Hurricane's shooting was terrible. TU misfired on five consecutive free throws and on 12 of its next 13 field goal attempts.
Wednesday's end result was a 70-63 UAB victory at the Reynolds Center. The injury-riddled Hurricane dropped to 12-11 overall and 4-5 in C-USA. For the first time this season, Tulsa has a three-game losing streak.
"It was very frustrating to watch," Hurricane coach Danny Manning said. "We were on a two-game skid. Now, it's a three-game skid. We have to come out with more fire and energy, right from the tip."
As Rod Rucker scored 17 points and Quincy Taylor had 14, the Blazers improved to 10-13 overall and 2-6 in the conference. UAB shot 55 percent from the field. Tulsa shot 39 percent. UAB was 9-of-20 on 3-pointers. Tulsa was 4-of-18.
While UAB shot 61 percent from the field during the first half, Tulsa was dogged by dysfunction. During four consecutive possessions, there were two offensive fouls, an airball shot and a bad-pass turnover. During a span of slightly more than 12 minutes, the Hurricane did not have a field goal.
While surging to a first-half advantage of 37-13, "we played our best basketball of the year," UAB coach Jerod Haase said. "We were extremely unselfish - turning down good shots to get great shots, and, obviously, knocking them in, as well.
"January was a tough month on us, but I felt we were slowly improving. We're trending in the right direction."
TU freshman guard James Woodard appeared to be bothered first by soreness in his back and later by lower-leg pain, and he wound up scoring only three points and playing only eight minutes. During last weekend's 30-point TU loss at Memphis, he was scoreless in 16 minutes.
TU freshman forward D'Andre Wright, still recovering from a leg injury, was on the floor for only 10 minutes against UAB.
If the 5-foot-11 Ray hadn't played his best game of the season, Tulsa might have been blown out by the Blazers. Ray scored a season-high total of 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field. His teammates were a combined 14-of-45 from the field.
"I think I did a lot to help my team, but it just wasn't enough to get the win," said Ray, who also finished with five steals. "I should try to do that every game."
Said Manning: "If you look at the stat line, yeah, (Ray) played well. I think he can play like that more often. That's the kind of energy he should bring each and every game."
Ray was at his best during the final three minutes of the opening half, as TU popped the Blazers with a 15-3 run. After the Hurricane had trailed twice by 24 points, the halftime deficit was 43-31.
And with nine minutes left to play, Tulsa was down 56-52 and seemed positioned to make a winning run. TU was doomed, however, by its inability to finish shots.
On Saturday, TU plays an 8 p.m. conference game at UTEP. In its last 10 games at the Miners' Don Haskins Center, the Hurricane is 2-8.
8 p.m. Saturday
Radio: KRMG am740, fm102.3
Bill Haisten 918-581-8397
Tulsa's Rashad Ray shoots during a game against UAB in Tulsa on Wednesday. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World
Tulsa's Kauri Black (right) and UAB's Preston Purifoy go after a loose ball during their game on Wednesday. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World