TULSA ROMPS PAST SMU

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

Tulsa guard Isaiah Hill, front, fights for a loose ball with SMU guard Kendric Davis, back, during an NCAA college basketball game in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. Road Woes Continue For SMU 

BY:  Dic Humphrey                                                                                                                                                                                 MEMBER:  United States Basketball Writers Association

The Tulsa Golden Hurricane romped past the SMU Mustangs Saturday afternoon 79-57 in the Reynolds Center, located on the Tulsa University campus.  Tulsa’s Martins Ibanu scored 23 points off the bench to sink the Ponies in an all-important game for both teams in the American Athletic Conference regular season race.  Tulsa is 18-9 overall for the season and moves into first place in the loss column in conference play at 10-4.  The Mustangs fell out of the top four with the loss and are now 18-8 for the season and 8-6 in conference.  SMU is also 1-6 in conference road games.  

Tulsa was thoroughly thrashed by Houston earlier in the week, losing by 30 points.  The Hurricane’s Head Coach Frank Haith was asked after the game what he did to prepare for SMU after that loss.  He credited his players largely, saying, “Great leadership.  Great locker room.  Great chemistry.  We prepared really hard.  We’re not going to let one loss ruin our season.”

The Golden Hurricane trailed early 4-3, but that proved to be SMU’s only lead in the game.  The Mustangs shot miserably for the second game in a row, but kept the Tulsa lead in single digits during the first half.  Ibanu scored 15 first half points to give Tulsa a 33-26 halftime lead.  Haith said about Ibanu, “(He’s) playing like a senior trying to get to the post-season.”

Tulsa came out strong to start the second half and pushed their lead into double digits in less than three minutes at 42-31.  The game was effectively over around the nine minute mark when SMU’s Isiaha Mike was charged with his fourth foul with very little contact on his opponent driving to the basket.  A frustrated Mike slammed the ball to the floor and was charged with a technical foul that brought his total to five fouls, and he was disqualified from the game.  Mike is definitely the best leader on the team; and with him out, the Tulsa lead promptly headed toward 20 points.  SMU was never really in the game the rest of the way.

SMU Head Coach Tim Jankovich again complained after the game about the officiating pointing to his team getting tagged with 24 fouls compared to just 12 charged to Tulsa.  That resulted in the Golden Hurricane outscoring the Mustangs by 15 points at the foul line (22-7).  In fact though, the referees were less to blame for the difference than the fact that SMU took 30 of their 54 shots from beyond the three point arc.  Shooters rarely get fouled on three point attempts.  

“We’ve had a rough week,” Jankovich said in reference to losing both games this week, both on the road.  “All of a sudden, this week we haven’t been able to make a shot.  I thought we were getting in the first half just great, great shots.  Really great shots.  As good as you could hope (for).  Shots we usually make.  Shots we’ve been making all year long.  (I) felt like we could have easily been ahead at halftime had we’d had just a normal shooting night.  I thought we would coming off a really, really rough shooting night at Tulane.  Our offense this week really just didn’t give us a chance.”  

Three Mustangs scored in double digits:  Tyson Jolly with 18, Mike with 13 and Kendric Davis with 10 points.  Feron Hunt again did not start for the tenth straight game, but led the Mustangs with seven rebounds.  Tulsa native Ethan Chargois played 18 minutes, but scored just two points and grabbed three rebounds in front of the home crowd. 

For Tulsa, Ibanu led with 23 points.  Jankovich was really impressed with him.  “He’s a great player.  I told our guys I think he’s the best post player we’ve played all year.”

Lawson Konita and Darien Jackson were the other two Tulsa players in double digits with 14 and 12 points respectively.  Ibanu just missed a double-double with a game high nine rebounds to go with his points.  

In other conference action, Memphis beat Houston at home 60-59.  That puts Houston (11-4), Cincinnati (10-4), and Tulsa (10-4) in a three way tie in the loss column for the regular season championship.  Wichita State at 8-5 moves into fourth place ahead of SMU, which is in a fifth place tie with Memphis at 8-6.  Cincinnati and Wichita State face off Sunday to finish the weekend play among the top six teams.   

The Mustangs finish the home portion of their regular season schedule next week starting with a Tuesday game against Memphis.  The Tigers began the season ranked in the top 10 in the country, but lost last year’s number one high school recruit, James Wiseman, and have tumbled since.  They are scrambling to make the NCAA Tournament coming in with a 19-8 record for the season and 8-5 in AAC play, but they come into this game on a two-game winning streak.  Game time is 8:00 PM Central, and the game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network with Carter Blackburn handling the play-by-play and Pete Gillon as the analyst.  

NOTABLE:

  • Feron Hunt was named to the Weekly Honor Roll this week.  He scored 38 points against Connecticut and Houston last week.
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