Poor shooting dooms TU against SMU
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
3/06/13 at 11:18 PM
When the University of Tulsa opened Conference USA play at SMU on Jan. 6, there was magic. Pat Swilling Jr. converted on a 3-pointer with 3.8 seconds left, and the Golden Hurricane escaped with a one-point victory.
When Tulsa hosted Tulane last weekend, there was magic – a comeback from a 22-point deficit. By the end of a nearly perfect 12-minute run, the Hurricane had prevailed by 12 points.
On Wednesday night, SMU visited the Reynolds Center for the Larry Brown-Danny Manning sequel.
This time, there was no Tulsa magic. There was a pronounced discrepancy in shooting efficiency, and as a result there was a 71-65 Mustang win.
Against Tulane, the Hurricane shot 59 percent during the second half. During the second half against SMU, Tulsa shot 29 percent. The Mustangs attempted only two 3-pointers all night. Instead, their offensive execution led to point-blank shots and a 40-18 advantage on points in the paint.
“This is by far the best we’ve played,” said Brown, who coached Manning at Kansas and now is SMU’s first-year head man. “We’ve been in this kind of game almost every game, and haven’t been able to close it out. ... This is the best (second-half) defense that we’ve played.”
While the Mustangs improved to 15-15 overall and 5-10 in Conference USA, the Hurricane sank to 15-14, 7-8 on Senior Night. In his final contest at the Reynolds Center, senior guard Scottie Haralson scored 13 points. Freshman guard James Woodard scored 17 for Tulsa.
“This is a tough way to go out – to play our last home game on Senior Night, and to take an L (a loss). Very disappointing,” Manning said. “Give SMU credit. Those guys came out and played a great game. Coach Brown had a very good game plan. They shot 52 percent from the field, which is a lot higher than we had been allowing. We wanted to have a much better showing tonight than we had.”
In the 11-team Conference USA Tournament, set for next week at the BOK Center, the top five teams will get a first-round bye. Entering the final weekend of the regular season, Tulsa and UAB are tied for that fifth seed. On Saturday, if the Hurricane wins at last-place Rice while UAB loses at first-place Memphis, Tulsa would emerge as the No. 5 seed and would not be involved in a Wednesday first-round game at the BOK Center.
With 4:52 remaining, a Jalen Jones dunk gave SMU an eight-point lead (62-54). A Shaq Harrison basket pulled the Hurricane within 64-63 with 1:18 left, but the Mustangs secured the victory with 7-of-9 free-throw shooting during the final minute.
Nick Russell scored 19 points for the Mustangs, while big man Cannen Cunningham played very well – 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting, along with five rebounds and five blocks.
SMU's Cannen Cunningham is pressured on a rebound by Tulsa's Brandon Swannegan (left), Rashad Ray and James Woodard in Wednesday's game at the Reynolds Center. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World