Danny Manning and Larry Brown met for the second time this season as coaches on opposing sides when Tulsa played SMU Wednesday night at the Reynolds Center.
Last time out, it was pupil winning against teacher. But this time, it was the old coach
getting the best of his former player as the Mustangs beat the Golden Hurricane, 71-65.
It was the last home game of the regular season for TU (15-14 overall, 7-8 in Conference USA).
Tulsa stormed out to an early lead, but relinquished it as the Mustangs (15-15, 5-10) surged. TU would take one more lead, draw within one point three times, including late in the stretch, but could not pull out a miracle like it did Saturday against Tulane.
"This is a tough way to go out, to take a loss on Senior Night,” Tulsa coach Danny Manning said. “Give SMU credit tonight. They had a great game tonight. Coach (Larry) Brown drew up a great plan, and they executed their offense and made shots. We have to give them credit for that. For us, it's disappointing because we wanted to have a much better showing than we did tonight. We have to go back, watch film, and get prepared for our last game of the season. We have to do whatever it takes to get that last win of the season on the road. Losing tonight, on Senior Night, is a tough pill to swallow."
When the two teams met back in January in Dallas, the Golden Hurricane rolled to a 17-point halftime lead before SMU dominated the second half to take the lead. Pat Swilling Jr.’s 3-pointer with 3.8 seconds left gave Tulsa a 48-47 win.
"That was the wildest, craziest game I've been involved in a long time,“ SMU coach Larry Brown said in reference to the two teams’ previous meeting. “We hold them to eight points for 19 minutes and 30 seconds and we lose the game on two contested threes, and they were out of timeouts.
But on Wednesday, the Mustangs were the more aggressive team. They were persistent at getting off and making their shots. Tulsa would rush to answer but could not as it came up short with most of its attempts as SMU played pressure defense.
"They play their starters for a lot of minutes,” Manning said of SMU. “Ball control is very important to coach Brown, along with spacing. They are trained to look for their opening and not give up until the end of the shot clock. That is part of his philosophy at times, and it was executed very well."
“This is the best we've played defensively in the second half,” Brown said. “Most games we've been ahead at halftime then didn't shut people down in the second half. It seems like people have been able to find a way to score on us, maybe it's our lack of depth. Our bench won the game tonight, if you look at the numbers, we lead the country in starters minutes and tonight our bench won the game for us."
James Woodard led TU with 17 points and Scottie Haralson scored 13. The Mustangs had four double-digit scorers. Nick Russell led with 19 points, Cannen Cunningham logged 17, Shawn Williams scored 13 and Ryan Manuel posted 11.
Tulsa stormed out to an early 15-8 lead, but it disappeared as the Mustangs took over from that point.
SMU took the lead at 22-21 on a jumper by Russell with 10:37 left.
A 3 by Swilling Jr. and a jumper from Woodard at the end of a 10-0 run put the Golden Hurricane up 32-31 with 4:32 left in the first half. It was TU’s last lead.
SMU was up 42-35 at halftime.
The Golden Hurricane fired off the second with a pair of 3-pointers and draw within a point. But SMU took off again with a 15-5 run, attaining an 11-point lead.
Tulsa then chiseled into its deficit and got as close to within a point again when Shaquille Harrison hit a layup inside the paint with 1:18 left. But fouls by TU sent the Mustangs to the free throw line in the final minute, where they converted 7-of-8 attempts. The clincher with 36 seconds left on a shot from Russell.
Tulsa shot 38 percent (22-of-58) from the field, 35 percent (9-of-26) from the 3-point range and was 60 percent (12-of-20) from the foul line.
SMU finished with 52 percent (29-of-56) in field goals and was 77 percent (13-of-17) at the charity stripe. It attempted just two 3s, missing both.
Tulsa will meet Rice in Houston on Saturday for the last game of the regular season. That game starts at 7 p.m. Then its back home, where the school will host the Conference USA tournament at the BOK Center from next Wednesday through March 16.
Hurricane Quick Hit
* Tulsa and SMU split their season series, with the road teams winning in each game, for the third year in a row. The Mustangs won the last two years at TU on game-winning shots at the buzzer. That was not the case on Wednesday night as they hung on instead.