Top-seeded Memphis eliminates TU in C-USA semifinals
By Staff Reports
Friday, March 15, 2013
When the University of Tulsa played at Memphis on Feb. 2, the Golden Hurricane trailed by 17 points at halftime and wound up with a 30-point defeat – its worst in seven years.
The Hurricane and Tigers were matched again on Friday, in a Conference USA Tournament semifinal at the BOK Center. A Chris Crawford 3-pointer and Tarik Black’s dunk – executed with such ferocity that it nearly dislodged the shot clock from the backboard – helped Memphis surge to a 25-14 lead.
Typically, the potent Tigers turn an 11-point lead into a 20-point cushion. On Friday, Tulsa responded impressively – rallying to within one point by halftime and actually capturing a brief lead during the second half.
But during a span of nine minutes, top-seeded Memphis outscored TU 27-11. The Hurricane’s upset aspiration dissolved into an 85-74 defeat. The Tigers (29-4) move to Saturday’s 10:30 a.m. championship meeting with second-seeded Southern Miss.
“Any time you can win, survive and advance – just win, baby, win,” Memphis coach Josh Pastner said.
This TU team (17-14) would have been an NCAA Tournament participant only if it had been the C-USA Tournament champion. The semifinal defeat extends the Hurricane’s NCAA drought to 10 seasons.
“They keep coming at you in waves,” Manning said of the 20th-ranked Tigers. “It’s hard to get a team as talented as Memphis to buy in, to play hard, to play unselfish. They set the bar for Conference USA.”
Memphis junior guard Chris Crawford, the Conference USA sixth man of the year, had a spectacular stat line – 30 points in 27 minutes, on 10-of-14 shooting overall and 8-of-10 shooting from 3-point range. Against Tulane on Thursday, Crawford was 6-of-13 on 3-pointers and totaled 24 points.
Referring to having been efficient and productive during each half on Friday, Crawford said, “The last time I had a game like this was my junior year in high school.”
Depending on whether Tulsa secures a berth in the NIT, or accepts an invitation to play in a postseason event like the College Basketball Invitational or the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, the C-USA semifinal might have been the career finale for Hurricane senior guard Scottie Haralson. If it was, he closed with an exceedingly solid performance – 25 points and a career-high total of 12 rebounds.
“There was a lot of emotion, with the thought that this could be the last game,” Haralson said. “You always want to play every game like it will be your last. I just tried to cherish the last moment.”
A pair of Pat Swilling Jr. 3-pointers, along with a Haralson trey and a Rashad Ray basket, pulled the Golden Hurricane to within 34-33 at halftime. At the 19:04 mark of the second half, James Woodard scored on a baseline shot. The Hurricane had a 35-34 advantage, but the lead would endure for only 25 seconds.
Swilling finished with 15 points and freshman Shaq Harrison added 13. Woodard scored all eight of his points during the second half. From post players Kauri Black, D’Andre Wright and Brandon Swannegan, Tulsa got a combined total of only eight points.
In addition to getting 30 points from Crawford, Memphis got double-digit scoring from Geron Johnson (14), Shaq Goodwin (12), Adonis Thomas (11) and D.J. Stephens, the C-USA defensive player of the year. Against Tulsa, Stephens totaled 10 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks.
Since 1974, Memphis has prevailed in 23 of its 25 meetings with the Golden Hurricane.
Tulsa's Shaquille Harrison gets around Memphis' Joe Jackson during Friday's game. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World