Despite dropping a game to East Carolina this week, the Golden Hurricane men’s basketball team remains in the top three of the conference standings.
The first game of the week was a disappointment, a 69–66 loss against East Carolina. Junior Etou put on a show, scoring 31 points and shooting 66 percent. The rest of the team couldn’t come up with enough offense to win the game, as the team’s total shooting percentage was a measly 31 percent. Tulsa started the game by taking a quick lead, but the Pirates fought back and claimed a lead that they would not relinquish until the final buzzer.
The Pirates have a 2–7 record in conference play, good for third from the bottom. If the Golden Hurricane have real ambitions of fighting for the conference title, these are games that they are going to have to win. Yes, road games are tough, but conference champs separate themselves by finding a way to win these games.
Tulsa bounced back with their next game, though. They returned home to face off against 7’6” Tacko Fall and the Central Florida Knights.
Most of the game was back-and-forth. Tulsa went on a run to go up 7–0, the Knights went on a run to take the lead, and the teams kept trading streaks. Neither team was able to take a commanding enough lead to prevent the other from getting back in the game.
In the final eight minutes of the game, the Golden Hurricane finally decided they wanted to take over, and it showed. They retook the lead and didn’t look back, going on a 10–4 run in the last minute of play to close out the victory. The win was a strong team effort. Pat Birt and Corey Henderson provided strong perimeter shooting, TK Edogi and Will Magnay played good defense on Tacko Fall, and Jaleel Wheeler and Junior Etou made some clutch plays, getting some important traditional three point plays.
Head coach Frank Haith said after the game, “It was a tremendous win. I thought we beat an obviously really, really good Central Florida team and did a really job on Tacko Fall, which was a key going into the game.”
“I thought we had a lot of production out of a lot of guys. At the ten-minute mark I really felt that we turned it up a level in terms of intensity and we got some loose balls. I think that we were down six points near the five-minute mark, but finished the game incredibly well in terms of coming up with loose balls and knocking balls loose.”
Tulsa is now 12–8 (6–2 American Athletic Conference) on the season. Their next game is going to be the biggest challenge yet. Cincinnati, who remains undefeated in conference play, is traveling to the Reynolds Center on Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m. for a conference top 3 matchup.