The Golden Hurricane men’s basketball team bounced back from their first two conference losses since 2014 to pick up crucial conference wins against East Carolina and third-place Temple.
On Wednesday, forward Brandon Swannegan earned his first career start and led the Golden Hurricane to a win over East Carolina with a career-high 16 points.
Tulsa used a 9–0 run midway through the first half to start to take control of the game, as they pushed out to an eight point lead after the run. The Golden Hurricane played well on both offense and defense for the remainder of the half, and took a large lead into the locker room with the score 35–19.
For the majority of the second half, the game flowed back and forth, with the teams exchanging small runs. With eight minutes remaining, Tulsa pushed their lead over twenty, at 58–37. East Carolina went on a 13–4 run to end the game, but came up short as the Golden Hurricane held on to win 69–58.
Overall, Tulsa played well on both sides of the ball. Said coach Frank Haith after the game, “It was a very important win for us. I thought our guys had really good energy.” On offense, TU shot 51 percent from the field, marking the first time in eight games they shot over 50 percent.
Temple came to town to face the Golden Hurricane on Sunday. In the first half, the game was tightly contested. Tulsa’s three point shooting kept them just in front of the Owls, whose size in the paint caused some matchup issues early on. TU took a 26–22 lead into halftime.
James Woodard, who scored a game-high 16 points, set the tone for the second half scoring a three-pointer early in the half. TU played more zone defense, and shut down the Owls offense. The Golden Hurricane opened the half on a 19–4 run, and led 50–30 with five minutes remaining in the half. Temple only scored 17 points in the second half, and Tulsa came away with a 55–39 victory.
“Obviously it was a great win for us. I thought our guys were dialed in and very focused at the start of this game. Our defense was terrific throughout the whole game. We were really on point with what we needed to do,” Haith said after the win.
With only four games left until the conference tournament in Connecticut, Haith talked about fighting to make the NCAA tournament. “You’re always fighting. Until the last game you’re only as good as the previous game. I’m sure this win helps. Temple is a top-40 RPI team.”
“I don’t know that we can hang our hat on the fact that we’re in right now. We’ve got to keep playing. Our guys are still competing for a championship. I think we’re focusing on our next opponent. Hopefully we can stay where we need to be and continue competing for a championship.”
With the win over Temple, Tulsa gave themselves another game over the third place Owls.
Tulsa remains second in the American Athletic Conference behind SMU with a 19–7 (12–2 AAC) record. Temple remains in third place with a record of 19–9 (10–5 AAC). Tulsa’s next game is on Wednesday, Feb. 25 against Tulane at the Reynolds Center before traveling on the road to play against the Memphis Tigers on Saturday.