Tulsa didn’t start well but it finished off Rice when it needed to the most. The Golden Hurricane rallied and went on a late run to take a 64-51 victory against the Owls Saturday evening at the Reynolds Center.
Shaquille Harrison, whom coach Danny Manning claimed as player of the game, led TU (10-7 overall, 2-1 in Conference USA) with 14 points. Pat Swilling Jr. was next with 12 and Kauri Black posted 10.
Rice (3-12, 0-2) entered the game ranking last in scoring, rebounds and every other statistical category. But the Owls didn’t look it in the early stages as they went on a 3-point barrage.
Tulsa hit the first two baskets but Rice went on a 14-0 run, drilling four 3-pointers, half of the eight it made in the first half. The Owls shot 62 percent (8-of-13) outside the arc in the first 20 minutes. Twenty-four of its first 28 points came from outside the arc.
“A lot of that had to do with us playing poor defense,” Black said. “We kind of knew the scouting report to stay on the shooters and we kind of let their confidence get up by getting wide-open shots. So we did a bad job and they executed well.”
“Rice came out and shot the ball exceptionally well,” Tulsa coach Danny Manning said. “Whenever you shoot almost 62 percent from the three-point line, you’re doing something really well.”
Tulsa would trim the deficit before halftime and enter the locker room, down 33-26.
“They came out and ran their offense, they executed,” Manning said. “They were able to kick it out to shooters and they made shots.”
The Hurricane slowed down Rice’s outside shooting, eventually coming back and tied it 43-43. Zeldric King put TU up 45-43 with 7:48 left, after hitting two free throws off a technical foul. It was the Hurricane’s first lead since a 4-0 advantage early in the game.
“Our defense was all effort,” Harrison said. “First half it wasn’t really showing any effort or putting intensity in our defense. We were just trying to force our scoring, but in the second half we came out ‘D’d’ up and turn our defense into offense.”
After a free shot from Seth Gearhart, Rice would regain the lead with another 3 coming from Max Guercy. But after both teams exchanged free throws, a lay-up by Pat Swilling Jr. put TU back up 51-49 with over five minutes left in the game.
“In the second half, we just came out and try to do a better job of staying in front of the basketball and make a conscious effort to throw the ball inside,” Manning said. “We were fortunate to come away with 30 points in the paint, and we got out in fast break situations and scored 10 points and that helped us as well.
“Those are two things that we have to continue to do to ensure that we have some success out on the court.”
Guercy would tie it with a basket for the Owls nearly a half minute later before Tulsa would take the lead for good while starting up a 13-0 run to close the game.
After two free throws from Haralson, Harrison made a slam dunk of a steal to make the score 55-51. Layups by Black and Rashad Ray would also come in the mix down the stretch.
TU finished shooting 53 percent (19-of-36) in field goals, only hit two 3s out of 11 attempts and was 69 percent (24-of-35) from the foul line.
The Owls were led by Tamir Jackson’s 14 points. Gearhart also had 12. Rice shot 33 percent (16-of-48) in field goals, 46 percent (11-of-24) in 3-pointers and 62 percent (8-of-13) in free throws.
Tulsa will meet UTEP 7 p.m. Wednesday night at the Reynolds Center.