The Golden Hurricane men’s basketball team faced their toughest week of the season, and the results reflected that. Cincinnati and SMU, the top two teams in the American Athletic Conference standings, each came to the Reynolds Center this week.
The No. 14 ranked Cincinnati Bearcats visited first. Tulsa came to play in this game, and it showed early. The Golden Hurricane scored the first nine points of the game. Cincinnati fought back, and the first half kept close. At halftime, the score was tied at 30.
In the second half, Cincinnati took the first lead, but Tulsa came back and took their largest lead of the game. Up by 11 with six minutes left in the game, the game seemed to be going Tulsa’s way. At that point, the offense sputtered, scoring only three points in the final six minutes of the game. This allowed the Bearcats to get back into the game, and tie with with thirty seconds remaining. Tulsa had the ball and a chance to take the lead, but turned the ball over on their next possession. This turnover allowed Cincinnati to hold the ball for the last shot. They did so, and sunk a game-winning jump shot with four second remaining to win the game 57–55, sending disappointment through Tulsa fans everywhere.
Tulsa was able to overcome Cincinnati’s strengths of strong defense and interior play. The Golden Hurricane’s 40 percent shooting from the field was impressive against the team ranked second in the nation in that defensive category. Tulsa also outrebounded Cincinnati by 10. Despite being the better team for the majority of the game, the final six minutes proved to be enough to doom the Golden Hurricane.
After the heartbreak against Cincinnati, the SMU Mustangs came to town. Tulsa hung around for the majority of the first half, until the Mustangs scored 12 unanswered points to end the half with a nine point advantage.
In the second half, the Golden Hurricane had no answers for the SMU guards. At this point, the game seemed to be an emotional letdown after the Cincinnati game, as SMU guards Sterling Brown and Shake Milton seemed to be able to do whatever they wanted against the Tulsa defense. The intensity was not there for Tulsa. SMU pushed the lead to make any comeback impossible, and took the game 76–53.
After the two losses, Tulsa is now 12–10 (6–4 AAC) on the season. The schedule doesn’t get any easier from there, though. They are now tied for third in the conference, and both games this week are against the two teams they are tied with. First up is an away game at Memphis on Tuesday at 6 p.m., followed by a home game against Houston on Saturday at 5 p.m. The next few games are crucial for the Golden Hurricane to get some momentum and quality wins as conference play continues.