The Golden Hurricane men’s basketball team opened up their season on Saturday with a 98–81 win over the University of Central Arkansas Bears. This is their first season-opening win since Danny Manning’s first year with Tulsa in 2012.
Tulsa had six players score double-digit points, led by senior James Woodard who had 23 points—including five three-pointers. Woodard was closely followed by Shaquille Harrison who had 22. Brandon Swannegan, D’Andre Wright, Pat Birt and Marquel Curtis all had double-digit points.
At the start of the game, Tulsa jumped out to an 8–2 early lead on Wright’s six early points. Central Arkansas trailed the Golden Hurricane through the entire first half, but made it close at the half with a three-pointer, making it 44–38 going into the half.
UCA came out strong in the second half putting up five quick points to pull within one of the Golden Hurricane. Tulsa responded by scoring ten unanswered points and then seven more after Central Arkansas scored (on free throws, not a field goal) to make a 17–2 run, making the score 61–45.
When the Bears scored six straight points of their own in the middle of the second half to come within nine, the Golden Hurricane responded with another ten-point run, this time from Birt and Woodard’s three-pointers, to take a nineteen-point lead with under five minutes, and essentially putting the game out of reach for Central Arkansas.
Central Arkansas guard Derreck Brooks scored in the final seconds of the game, but Tulsa had already wrapped up the win.
After the game Frank Haith said, “I thought our players were outstanding offensively, and defensively, give Central Arkansas credit—they made some shots. Central Arkansas has some good offensive players in Brooks and (Jordan) Howard.”
Haith also said, “I thought execution-wise we were really good, and we had 38 field goals with 20 assists, and that comes from sharing the ball. It was good to see some of our guys that hadn’t played well in the exhibition get out and play well—Shaq being one and Pat Birt being another. All in all it was a great win for us.”
Shaquille Harrison joined teammate James Woodard in the 1,000-point club, becoming only the 37th player in school history to reach that milestone. His current total sits at 1,020 points.
The next game is on Tuesday night against the No. 10 Wichita State Shocker at 7 pm at the Reynolds Center.