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Tulsa Rides Defense To Take Down Temple

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TULSA, Oklahoma -

James Woodard scored a game-high 16 points and Rashad Smith tallied 13 points and 13 rebounds to lead Tulsa to a 55-39 victory over Temple Sunday afternoon in front of a crowd of 5,130 fans at the Donald W. Reynolds Center.

The Hurricane improved to 12-2 in the American Athletic Conference and 19-7 overall, while the Temple fell to 19-9 overall and 10-5 in league play.

Tulsa mounted a defensive effort that held the Owls to 24-percent shooting from the field and just 1-of-14 from three-point range. The Hurricane shot just 37.5-percent from the field, 25-percent from three-point range and 54-percent from the free throw line.

Brandon Swannegan, starting for the second straight game, added 10 points and six rebounds, while Shaquille Harrison, although scoring only four points, had seven assists, six rebounds and three steals in 26 minutes for Tulsa. Temple's Will Cummings, straddled with foul trouble in the first half, led the Owls with 15 points in 23 minutes.

“Obviously it was a great win for us. I thought our guys were dialed in and very focused at the start of this game. Our defense was terrific throughout the whole game. We were really on point with what we needed to do,” said Tulsa Head Coach Frank Haith.

“James (Woodard) and Rashad (Smith) were great. I think Smitty in his situation – he didn't really practice contact for the last couple of days with the two dislocated fingers. His line was outstanding – 13 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks, two steals. He was all over the court. Great production out of both of these guys offensively. We needed it. But I would have to say we won that game on the defensive end,” added Haith.

Leading by four points at halftime, 26-22, Tulsa outscored the Owls 9-2 for nearly the first five minutes of the second half to take a 35-24 lead at the 15:15 mark. Jaylen Bond's layup cut Tulsa's lead to nine points at 35-26 at the 15:03 mark, but that would be the last basket for the Owls until 6:53 remained in the game. During that 8:10 drought for Temple, the Hurricane built its lead to 19 points, 45-26, with 7:37 remaining in the contest.

It wasn't until 6:05 remaining in the game that Temple reached the 30-point mark. Rashad Ray's layup with 3:21 left gave Tulsa its largest lead of 20 points. Tulsa was able to not let the Owls get any closer than 15 points in the final three minutes.

The 39 points scored by Temple was the second fewest that the Hurricane has allowed this season, second to 35 points by Auburn.

Tulsa jumped out to 5-0 lead, before Temple scored the next six points. The Hurricane re-took the lead 9-6 on a Smith three-pointer at the 16:09 mark. The first-half lead changed hands only twice as the score was tied at 6, 16 and 22 in the first 20 minutes.

Tulsa's lead in the first half would get as high as five points, 22-17, at the 5:17 mark when Marquel Curtis scored on a layup. Temple scored the next five points to tie the score at 22 with 2:34 remaining. Free throws by Swannegan and Smith, as well as a Smith layup put the Hurricane ahead 26-22 at the intermission.

At halftime, Woodard had nine points to lead Tulsa, while Smith added eight points. Cummings, plagued with first-half foul trouble, still managed to score nine points in just eight minutes for Temple.

Both teams shot under 35-percent from the field (34.6 for Tulsa, 24.2 for Temple) and no better than 50-percent from the free throw line in the first 20 minutes. The Owls converted 6-12 freebies in the first half, while Tulsa made just 5-of-13 for 39-percent.

Tulsa closes out a three-game home-stand this Wednesday against the Tulane Green Wave in a 7 p.m. game. The Hurricane will play at Memphis on Saturday at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.

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