The Golden Hurricane men’s basketball team is off to a 5–3 start to the season, which includes a few wins against strong teams.
Up to this point, all of their games have been non-conference games.
First on the schedule was Central Arkansas. As expected, the game didn’t pose too much of a threat to the Golden Hurricane. Tulsa played with excellent offensive balanced. Six players scored in double digits, with James Woodard and Shaquille Harrison leading the way with 23 and 22, respectively. The final score was 98–81.
In the second game of the season, Tulsa welcomed Ron Baker and No. 9 Wichita State and to the Reynolds Center.
The first half featured a very even game, and the Golden Hurricane managed to keep a slight lead for the majority of it. They built the lead up to eight at 30–22 with two and a half minutes left in the first, but Fred Van Vleet had different ideas for the halftime score. He made three consecutive three-point shots, and the Shockers took a one point lead into the halftime break.
In the second half, Tulsa started to assert themselves, and maintain a lead. Their three-point shooting was strong, and another well-rounded offensive game contributed to their success. Baker had a solid game for the Shockers, almost bringing them back on his own, but his efforts weren’t enough. Tulsa claimed the 77–67 victory, which was their first victory against a ranked opponent in the past 12 years. It was their first victory against a top ten team in the past 15 years.
After the upset, the Golden Hurricane’s next three games came in the US Virgin Islands Paradise Jam. In the first round, they played Ohio University. This game featured the closest final score of any of Tulsa’s game at that point. Harrison had a big game, scoring 31 points, a career high. The Golden Hurricane needed every one of those points, as they made a big second half comeback to take the game, 90–88.
Their next tournament opponent was Indiana State. The game was a much less offensive game, and again featured a Golden Hurricane comeback. Harrison again led Tulsa scorers with 24 points, and Tulsa won their fourth game in a row to start the season and advance to the final of the Paradise Jam, winning 67–59.
The championship game featured a matchup with South Carolina. Again, the Golden Hurricane found themselves trailing in the second half, but this time could not complete the comeback. South Carolina had a 16 point lead, but that was cut to four with twelve minutes left, but Tulsa couldn’t get any closer. The Gamecocks handed the Golden Hurricane their first loss of the season, 83–75.
After the tournament, Tulsa’s next opponent was Arkansas-Little Rock. This time, Tulsa held a lead in the second half, but gave it up to a UALR comeback. They opened the half with a 10–0 run to take the lead, and out-scored the Golden Hurricane from that point forward to win the game, 64–60.
Tulsa then travelled to Stillwater, Oklahoma to face Oklahoma State. In a defensive game, Marquel Curtis pulled through with 10 points in the second half to help lead the Golden Hurricane to a 66–56 victory. The game was tied with five minutes left, but Tulsa made smart plays down the stretch and outscored the Cowboys by 10 over that period.
In their most recent game, the Golden Hurricane faced in-town rival Oral Roberts. The game was the closest game of the season. In the first half, Tulsa held the lead for the majority of the time, and they took a two point lead into the halftime break.
The second half featured a lot of back-and-forth play, as each team held the lead for small periods of time. The game was tied late, and Obi Emegano made a shot with 2 seconds left for the Golden Eagles, giving them the 70–68 win.
This season has included a variety of game types, from defensive games to highly-offensive showcases. Overall, the team looks good so far. This is the second year under coach Frank Haith, so the players are more familiar with his system now. The offense is led by Harrison and Woodard in most games, but overall the scoring is pretty well divided among the players. The team is experienced, as most of the players that see regular minutes are seniors. I’m excited to see how this team continues to develop over the rest of the season; there has been a lot of promise shown this far.