GAME NOTES: The Tulsa Golden Hurricane entertain the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders on Thursday night, as the teams square off in a Conference USA clash at the Reynolds Center.
This bout marks the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
The Blue Raiders ran over Texas-San Antonio last Saturday, 80-58, to collect their fourth win in the last five games. Middle Tennessee is now 12-6 overall, including a 2-1 mark against conference foes. However, the team, which is 2-3 on the road, is starting a two-game road swing that ends at North Texas this weekend.
Tulsa has also won four of its last five, with a 69-52 win at Marshall being the most recent. The Golden Hurricane are still sitting below .500 overall (8-10), but they have a 3-1 mark in league play and a 6-2 ledger at home. They will host UAB next, in the second part of a three-game homestand.
Middle Tennessee shot 47.4 percent from the field and scored 26 points off turnovers to notch a convincing win over UTSA. The Blue Raiders also had a 41-29 edge on the boards and held the Roadrunners to 33.3 percent shooting. Kerry Hammonds knocked down 5-of-7 tries from 3-point range and finished with a game-high 19 points.
Although Hammonds (12.5 ppg) is one of three double-digit scorers on the roster, he has not been the most prolific nor the most efficient. On the season, he has only connected on 38.2 percent of his attempts from the floor. Shawn Jones (12.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg) and Neiko Hunter (13.2 ppg) have been the more reliable scorers, especially Jones, who is hitting 58.2 percent of his field goal attempts. Tweety Knight (7.7 ppg, 4.8 apg, 2.3 spg) is more of a complementary scorer, but he is among the top-five players in the conference in both assists and steals.
Tulsa knocked down 61.5 percent of its shots from the floor and 12-of-14 from the free-throw line to push its way past Marshall the last time out. James Woodard netted a game-high 17 points, while Rashad Ray added 13 as part of a 32-point effort from the team's reserves.
A trio of scorers averaging in double figures leads the way for Tulsa as well. Woodard (14.5 ppg, 6 rpg) is the most productive of the group, in addition to being team's top rebounder. He has scored in double figures in 11 straight games and added at least five rebounds in nine of those tilts. Rashad Smith (12.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg) is a solid scorer in the paint, connecting on 51.5 percent of his attempts from the field. Shaquille Harrison (10.8 ppg, 3.6 apg) also lends a hand, while pacing the team in assists. Patrick Swilling (9.6 ppg) provides a spark off the bench, although he shoots just 36.4 percent from the field.
As long as Tulsa can avoid another slow start, like the one it had against Marshall, a win should be in the cards, even against a tough team like Middle Tennessee.
Game Date and Time