The Golden Hurricane men’s basketball team’s season came to an end after their play in the American Athletic Conference tournament and the First Four of the NCAA tournament.
In the AAC tournament quarterfinal round, Tulsa faced a Memphis team that had bested them in Memphis just a few weeks prior. The Golden Hurricane had earned the No. 3 seed in the tournament, while Memphis was the No. 6 seed.
Tulsa came out strong in the first five minutes, and pulled out to a small lead. The Tigers rallied quickly, though, and had tied the game just a few minutes later. Tulsa couldn’t retake the lead, and the Tigers didn’t look back from there. Memphis started to assert their dominance in the paint in the final eight minutes of the half. From there, they took a one point lead, and extended it to a 46–32 advantage at the halftime break.
As the second half began, Memphis picked up where they left off. WIth some hot shooting, they continued to increase their lead. At its largest point, the Tigers lead was an insurmountable 31 points with six minutes remaining in the game.
The Golden Hurricane’s main difficulties in the game came on the defensive end, as Memphis scored over 40 points in each half on their way to a 89–67 victory. Memphis would go on to be defeated by UConn in the AAC tournament championship game.
After their loss in the AAC tournament, Tulsa was left to wait to hear their postseason fate on Selection Sunday. Many analysts predicted them to be close to making the NCAA tournament field, but not in.
During the selection show, though, Tulsa was announced to have made the field, a decision which ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi called “indefensible by every known standard”. Poor Joe has been wrong about many things in this year’s tournament, though. Tulsa was scheduled to play Michigan in the First Four round in Dayton.
The game turned out to be a struggle for both teams offensively. Michigan was able to stifle Tulsa’s offense in the first half, as the Golden Hurricane scored a mere 20 points before the break, their lowest first half total of the season. Michigan held a 28–20 lead at halftime.
Tulsa came out strong in the second half, opening with a 12–4 run to knot the score at 40. From that point on, neither team could pull away. Shaquille Harrison’s athletic plays kept the Golden Hurricane in the game when Michigan started to gain momentum, but the Wolverines had clutch shots of their own when Tulsa started to get on a roll. Ultimately, Zach Irvin hit a three-pointer for Michigan with a minute remaining, giving them a one point lead. Tulsa only made one basket in the final minute, and the Wolverines shot their free throws well to close out the game.
In their second trip to the NCAA tournament in three years and the final game for the nine seniors on the Golden Hurricane roster, they fell to Michigan 67–62.
Michigan Head Coach John Beilein praised Tulsa’s seniors after the game saying, “First of all, we watched in two days a ton of Tulsa film. We have so much respect for that team. Those seniors on that team, they deserve to be in the NCAA tournament. They proved it today. They’re really a difficult matchup for us. They drove me crazy with trying to figure out how to guard their quickness, how to guard those three left-handed guards at one time, and they were terrific today.”
A few Golden Hurricane players received honors for their play this season. Harrison and James Woodard were named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches District 25 First Team. Harrison was also invited to participate in the College Slam Dunk competition.