TULSA, Oklahoma - On Super Bowl Sunday it was a super day for Tulsa’s Pat Birt as the junior guard tied his career-high with 27 points in leading the Golden Hurricane to a 77-63 victory over Houston Sunday afternoon in front of 4,321 fans at the Donald W. Reynolds Center.
The win put the Hurricane record at 15-8 overall and 7-4 in American Athletic Conference play as Tulsa now prepares for a two-game road trip that takes the Hurricane to SMU and UConn. The loss drops Houston to 16-7 overall and 6-5 in league play.
“Obviously it was a great bounce back game for us, and I thought that our guys came out with great focus,” said Tulsa Head Coach Frank Haith. “We knew Houston was going to be ready to play, and I thought that our guys were just dialed in. We were good on both ends of the court. I thought that our execution was much better here compared to when we played Houston the first time. This was a really good win for us.”
Birt had his second straight 20-point scoring game and the fourth of the season, while scoring 19 first-half points, giving Tulsa an 11-point halftime lead. He connected on 10-of-18 field goals, 5-of-10 from three-point range and 2-of-3 from the free throw line. James Woodard added 15 points, Rashad Smith 12 and Shaquille Harrison 10 for the Hurricane.
“Pat had a game, but we knew we had to get some stuff going for James (Woodard) at the beginning of the second half. When Brandon (Swannegan) and (Rashad) Smith can give some production it really just helps our team,” said Haith.
Both teams shot the ball well from the field and beyond the three-point line. Tulsa shot 52-percent from the field and 42-percent from three-point range, knocking down 8-of-19 treys, while Houston shot 45-percent from the field and 46-percent from behind the arc as the Cougars connected on 11-of-24 treys.
Tulsa controlled the boards, out-rebounding Houston by 11 boards, 33-22, and grabbing 13 offensive boards to Houston’s seven offensive rebounds, seven offensive caroms below their season average.
Leading 34-23 at halftime, the Hurricane came out after intermission on a 7-0 run for a 41-23 lead just 1:18 into the second half. With that seven-point outburst to start the second half, Tulsa had outscored Houston 22-5 over a stretch of 7:33 going back to the 6:15 mark of the first period.
Another Birt three-pointer with 16:59 on the second-half clock put the Hurricane up by 20 points at 45-25. Houston would get as close as 12 points after a 7-0 run cut their deficit to 55-43 at the 9:22 mark. However, Tulsa answered with a 7-0 run of their own when Woodard ended the drought with a trey, followed by a Birt jumper and a Woodard layup that increased the Hurricane lead to 19 points, 62-43, with less than eight minutes to play.
The Hurricane took its largest lead of 22 points on two Harrison free throws at the 5:28 mark, and held on for the 14-point victory.
Tulsa jumped out to a 9-4 lead on a three-pointer by Pat Birt at the 15:15 mark to start the game. Houston tied the score at 11 and again at 15 with 10:01 remaining in the first half.
Two baskets by Brandon Swannegan put the Hurricane ahead 19-15, as Houston went scoreless for nearly four minutes before Galen Robinson knocked down a trey at the 6:18 to make the score 19-18. Tulsa went on an 13-0 run over the next 3:32 to build a 32-18 lead with 2:43 left in the first half, as Birt scored 10 of those points for the Hurricane.
The Cougars scored the next five points, cutting Tulsa’s 14-point lead to nine points at 32-23 with 1:25 remaining in the first 20 minutes.
Tulsa took a 34-23 lead into intermission as Birt scored 19 first-half points to lead the Hurricane. Tulsa held a 19-10 rebounding edge and shot 46-percent from the field, while holding the Cougars to 39 percent in the first 20 minutes.
Tulsa goes on the road for road games at SMU (Feb. 10) and UConn (Feb. 13) before returning to the Reynolds Center to host the Cincinnati Bearcats on Thursday, Feb. 18 for an 8:00 p.m. tip time.