Nine seniors were honored before Saturday’s game against USF, as the Golden Hurricane men’s basketball team closed the regular season with a win after falling to Memphis earlier in the week.
On the road facing the Tigers, Rashad Smith was unable to play for the second straight game. His absence left the Golden Hurricane with less depth at the forward position, and proved crucial as the Tigers were led by their two forwards, who combined to score 55 points.
Tulsa played point-for-point with the Tigers in the first half, and even went into halftime with a one point lead, 47–46.
Over the course of the season, however, high scoring shootouts have not been Tulsa’s specialty. The team’s victories have often come from strong defense, and good shooting from quality opportunities coming from the defense. That combined with the lack of depth and foul trouble at the forward position made it difficult for the Golden Hurricane to keep up in the second half. Memphis slowly pulled away, and took the 92–82 victory.
USF then came to Tulsa to play the Golden Hurricane on senior day. The nerves showed early for Tulsa, as they came out tense during the first few minutes of the game. Senior Nick Wood started his first career game, and was the only source of offense in the first five minutes, as he scored Tulsa’s only field goal during that time.
As the game progressed, though, the team relaxed. USF’s biggest lead was 28–19, with less than seven minutes left in the half. From there, though, the Golden Hurricane closed the gap, and pulled within three at the halftime break.
The second half featured a great shooting performance from the Golden Hurricane, including 60-percent from the field and 50-percent from behind the three-point arc. The offensive burst, which totalled 51 points by the end of the half, included 21 points from Brandon Swannegan, his career high. USF couldn’t keep up with Tulsa in the second half, and the Golden Hurricane earned the 84–74 victory.
With the win Tulsa reached the 20 win mark for the third consecutive season, finishing the regular season at 20–10 (12–6 American Athletic Conference). With SMU disqualified from postseason play, that record puts Tulsa as the No. 3 seed heading into the conference tournament next weekend. Still predicted to be on the bubble of being selected for the NCAA tournament, the Golden Hurricane need to play well and make a run in the conference tournament to solidify their place in the selection committee’s mind.