Tulsa is playing its basketball at the right time. The Golden Hurricane won its second straight game against a Conference USA opponent when it surprised Southern Miss 75-71 Sunday before a crowd of 4,221 at the Reynolds Center.
TU (7-9 overall, 2-0 in C-USA), playing with some feistiness, led most of the game and had a cushion of a lead before seeing whittle down, but managed to hang on, clinching it with two free throws from Rashad Ray with nine seconds left.
"We played a great game tonight on the defensive side of the ball and executed when it counted,” Tulsa coach Danny Manning said. “Both teams really put everything into the game. There was a high level of intensity and a lot of effort. At the end of the day, I thought it was a pretty fun game."
Tulsa led 32-28 at halftime. It would increase its lead to 39-32 early in the second half, They would continue to stay out in front no matter how much the Golden Eagles (14-3, 1-1) chipped away. The home team exploded with a 12-0 run, including one of 7-0 after a timeout to go up 51-38 with 11;38 left.
That was capped by a 3-pointer from Pat Swilling Jr., which was one of four he hit on the day, in part of a 17-point outing.
"Pat has a short memory,” Manning said. “That is the way all good shooters are. They just can't remember their misses. Pat has that mentality. Every shot is a new experience. He takes tough shots, and that is just part of his (mojo). We always want him to be aggressive, and he certainly was today."
James Woodard led Tulsa with 18 points. After Swilling, Ray and D’Andre Wright each finished with 10.
Half of Woodard’s points came from the free throw line. He sank 9-of-10, part of a 75 percent (24-of-32) shooting from the line for the Golden Hurricane, who had been struggling in that area through most of the season.
TU finished with 42 percent (22-of-53) shooting from the floor and 28 percent (7-of-25) in 3-pointers.
Southern Miss got on fire late, trimming Tulsa’s lead down to six points,
A 3 by Neil Watson, which came off an offensive rebound, cut the TU lead to 63-57 with over four minutes left.
Swilling made a dunk that made the score 65-57.
Southern Miss led early 21-17 after a dunk from Daveon Boardingham with 6:41 left in the in the first half. Tulsa would go on an 8-0 run and would never relinquish the lead.
Jerrold Brooks led the Golden Eagles with 15 points. Boardingham scored 13, Neil Watson scored 11 and Michael Craig had 10.
Southern Miss shot 43 percent (23-of-54) from the field, 40 percent (8-of-20) in 3s and 74 percent (17-of-23) from the charity stripe.
Tulsa will travel the road Thursday to meet Charlotte. Game starts at 6 p.m. central time.