In their first game of the season, the Golden Hurricane men’s basketball team lost to Jacksonville State, a team they would normally expect to defeat.
Early in the first half, the game was close, as Tulsa stuck with the Gamecocks. Jacksonville State started to pull ahead late in the first half, eventually getting to a ten point lead as the half expired.
In the second half, the Gamecocks were able to pull ahead by as many as 19 points, keeping Tulsa out of comeback distance. The final score was 84–73 in favor of Jacksonville State.
Despite the loss, there were a few positives to come from the game. After a massive senior class graduated last year, this Tulsa team looks very different.
Many players got their first chance to play for the team on Friday. This included transfer players Junior Etou and Corey Henderson Jr., who scored 20 and 15 points, respectively.
Head Coach Frank Haith talked about the youth of the team in post-game press conference.
“[We] knew there would be some tough moments. They’re a veteran team — they have 10 junior college players — and they were quicker than us. We missed too many shots around the basket, and we missed free throws.”
“I think this team is capable of making free throws, but maybe it was first-game jitters. We have to be able to defend better. They executed very well, being a veteran team. We’ll get better. It’s early in the year and I think this team will get better.”
“This is just a young team that’s going to have some bumps and bruises early. Those guys need court time, I didn’t expect us to be a finished product here, early in the year. When you have 10 new guys, it’s going to take some time.”
“We haven’t had two of our important guys with us [on the court] in Jaleel [Wheeler] and Corey [Henderson Jr.]. I think when you put those things in there, and you’re playing an older team, like Jacksonville State, those guys can play. I said this to our guys — ‘Now you know. Every time you lace them up, you’re going to play guys that can play.’”
The next game for the Golden Hurricane is a road game against Wichita State on Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m.