The men’s basketball team upset conference foes Memphis and Temple this week, improving their conference record to 3–1 and their overall record to 9–7.
Underdogs at home against the Tigers, the Golden Hurricane were able to spoil former coach Tubby Smith’s return to Tulsa with a 81–71 win on Wednesday. Smith coached the Golden Hurricane from 1991–1995.
Tulsa opened the game up taking an early lead and holding onto it for the first 10 minutes of play. The Tigers tied the game 24–24 at this point and the lead changed hands four more times before the end of the first half.
Junior Etou, a redshirt junior, retook the lead for the Golden Hurricane with just under two minutes left in the first half, sinking a three-pointer that was just the start to a 10–0 run for the Golden Hurricane. Headed into halftime the Golden Hurricane led 43–36.
The second half started off similarly to the first with Tulsa holding onto the lead for the first 10 minutes, before Memphis retook it 55–54.
The lead changed hands a couple times here as Tulsa struggled to put points up — Tulsa didn’t record a field goal for almost nine minutes midway through the second half that allowed Memphis to get back in the game.
Tied late in the game 69–69, Tulsa’s offense found their rhythm, scoring 12 straight points to put the game away. The Golden Hurricane’s free-throw shooting was the largest contributor to their offensive surge as they made 7-of-8 shots and shot over 80-percent for the fourth straight game, something that Tulsa has struggled with in past years.
Etou and Sterling Taplin led the Golden Hurricane with 23 and 17 points respectively, and Etou recorded his third double-double of the season. While Etou and Taplin were the big scorers for Tulsa, the bench is the reason for the win. Tulsa’s bench outscored Memphis’s 26–7.
The Golden Hurricane also took advantage of the 41–29 advantage in rebounds to put up 18 second chance points to Memphis’s three.
The Golden Hurricane next traveled to Philadelphia to take on the Owls, and this time were five-point underdogs. Temple took the early lead in this game and held it for the first ten minutes. At that point Tulsa’s Pat Birt nailed a three-pointer that gave the Golden Hurricane the lead which they held for the rest of the first half.
Temple came out ready to play in the second half, starting on an 11–2 tear. They held the lead — which was as high as 8 a few times — until seven minutes remained the game.
From there the Golden Hurricane scored 10 of the next 12 points to tie the game at 65, with field goals from Etou, Taplin and Jaleel Wheeler.
The Golden Hurricane and the Owls traded points to go 68–68, but Taplin put up a last-minute layup to give Tulsa a 70–68 edge with 0:44 seconds left, and the Golden Hurricane held on for the win.
Etou led the Golden Hurricane with 15 points, while Taplin and Birt both added 14. Tulsa shot over 50-percent from the field and converted over 75 percent of their free throws for the fifth straight game.
Roughly halfway through the season, the Golden Hurricane sit at 9–7, a worse record than they’ve had in the last two years, but these most recent wins are pointing them in the right direction and give Tulsa a strong start in conference play.
Tulsa will return home to take on the Green Wave of Tulane (4–12) on Wednesday night.