GAME NOTES: With five wins in the last seven games, Tulsa is knocking on the door of first place in Conference USA. The team right below them, the Old Dominion Monarchs, will try for their fifth conference road win when the two squads meet at the Reynolds Center.
Tulsa has won nine of its last 10 home games, including a 76-58 decision against East Carolina Thursday. James Woodard tallied 21 points and seven rebounds. Stevie Repichowski provided Tulsa a spark off the bench with 13 points while Shaquille Harrison contributed 11 points and four assists. Brandon Swannegan added 10 points.
The Golden Hurricane come into Saturday at 7-3 in C-USA action, which is a game behind Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee and Texas-El Paso for the conference lead. Woodard, a sophomore guard, leads the Golden Hurricane in scoring (14.7 ppg) and on the glass (6.3 rpg). Sophomore forward Rashad Smith (12.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg), who was limited to eight points Thursday, is second in both the aforementioned categories. D'Andre Wright (7.8 ppg), who has started in 11 of his 24 appearances this season, is one of the best free throw shooters on the team, making 72 percent. That's still below Rashad Ray (.742) and Woodard (.793).
Tulsa's defense has stepped up in a big way. Over the last seven games, the Golden Hurricane has prevented all of those teams from shooting 40 percent from the field, and has allowed an average of 59.7 ppg. Within conference contests, Tulsa's defense ranks fifth in points allow at 65.0 ppg, and is second in field goal percentage defense giving up only 40 percent.
The Monarchs, who are alone in sixth place in the conference, won on the road Thursday against North Texas, 72-62. Ambrose Mosley finished with a game-high 21 points for Old Dominion. He nailed 5-of-7 from 3-point range and 6-of-6 at the free-throw line, while Aaron Bacote added 20 points. Keenan Palmore and Dimitri Batten each tallied 11 points.
Coach Jeff Jones has preached defense and the Monarchs have responded by giving up just 65 ppg, which is third-best in Conference USA. The problem is the Monarchs are scoring only 64.5 ppg, which is the fewest in the conference. Bacote (16.6 ppg), Palmore (11.1 ppg) and Batten (11.0 ppg) lead the way offensively. Richard Ross (9.0 ppg, 7.2 rpg) is one of three ODU players shooting better than 50 percent from the field. Ross, though, is making only 45.2 percent from the charity stripe, a place ODU has struggled immensely this season. The Monarchs are last in the conference with a .612 percentage at the foul line.
This is just the second all-time meeting between the Monarchs and Golden Hurricane. In the 1995 NCAA Tournament, Tulsa beat ODU, 64-52. Tulsa should be able to take advantage of a weak shooting ODU squad and challenge a team that has struggled offensively most of the season. The Monarchs have not put together back-to-back games of at least 70 points since early January.
Game Date and Time