Editor-in-Chief Justin Guglielmetti covers the men’s Golden Hurricane basketball team both home and away.
Having lost three in a row and five of their last six, the Golden Hurricane men’s basketball team welcomed the Memphis Tigers into town on Wednesday hoping to get their season back on track. It was a pitched battle that felt (especially in the second half) much closer than the 95-79 margin, but Tulsa ultimately emerged victorious.
DaQuan Jeffries led the team with an efficient 25 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, as well as an awe-inspiring Statue of Liberty that had the Reynolds Center rocking. Curran Scott scored a season-high 20 points, with three other players also reaching double figures. As a whole, the Golden Hurricane shot 54.5 percent from the field, 45 percent from the three-point line and dished 24 assists (led by Elijah Joiner’s career-high eight off the bench) on just 30 made field goals.
Tulsa faced little competition in the first half, always seeming to move one step ahead of the overmatched Tigers. The lead ballooned at one point to as many as 22 points, and even as Memphis made a small run fueled by Kyvon Davenport and Jeremiah Martin, they still trailed by 18 going into the second. However, a strategic decision by coach Penny Hardaway to institute a bothersome full-court press portended trouble to come later in the game.
When it became clear that Memphis’s half-court offense and man-to-man scheme wouldn’t be enough to get them back in the game, Hardaway went back to the press with almost 10 minutes remaining. Tulsa’s ball-handlers repeatedly had trouble getting into the frontcourt and converting when they did, in addition to coughing up 17 turnovers.
Still, they would not have been able to get back in the game if not for the heroics of backup point guard Tyler Harris. Held scoreless and with three fouls in the first half, the 5’10” spark plug erupted in the second for 18 points. He had the ball on a string, wading through the trees of taller defenders to convert tough plays inside and rising for threes from Steph Curry range. Harris would get the Tigers to within eight, but their exhausting pressure-and-foul approach would not pay off. Scott helped ice the game with nine points (going 6-6 from the foul line) in the final two minutes.
Unfortunately, the good times would not carry over to the first installment of the Havoc in the Heartland rivalry in 2019. TU went on the road to face off against the disappointing Wichita St. Shockers, and though they led for a time in the second half, ended up falling 79-68 for their backbreaking 10th loss of the season.
Markis McDuffie was a one man wrecking crew for the Shockers, leading all players with 27 points and seven rebounds. He and big man Jaime Echenique scored more points together than TU’s entire starting lineup. The Golden Hurricane were led by sixth man Jeriah Horne’s 16 points, with the rising Darien Jackson also contributing 10 points on 5-5 shooting off the bench.
Tulsa actually shot better from the field than Wichita St., but 18 turnovers, 10 missed free throws and trouble securing defensive rebounds resulted in the Shockers taking 18 more shots. It may have been the sterling play of McDuffie and the 17-4 run down the stretch that put the game away, but the Golden Hurricane never gave themselves much of a chance with that type of performance.
The worst part of TU’s schedule is behind them, but at 13-10, their tournament dreams are almost caput. With eight games left on the docket and 16-6 Temple coming up, Tulsa will attempt to end the season on a high note and move out of their 10th place standing in the American Conference.