TULSA, Oklahoma - After a two-game road swing, the Tulsa men’s basketball team returns home to host AAC foe Cincinnati at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday night.

The Golden Hurricane is 16-9 overall and 8-5 in conference play and is coming off a 75-73 loss to UConn. 

In that game, TU junior guard Pat Birt hit six three-pointers and led all scorers with 24 points. Birt has averaged 22.5 points per game in the last four of Tulsa’s games.

On the other end, Cincinnati is currently 19-7 overall and 9-4 in league play. The Bearcats are coming off a 75-60 win over East Carolina and has won six of their last seven matchups.

As far as standings, the Golden Hurricane is one game behind the Bearcats and just two behind Temple for first place in the AAC.

UC head coach Mick Cronin knows that Tulsa is desperate to make the NCAA Tournament so defeating the Golden Hurricane will be a challenge.

"They're playing like they have six or eight seniors (actually nine) and they want to make the NCAA Tournament," said Cronin. "It jumps off the old iPad when you're watching them, how desperate they are to win every game. Their competitiveness is extremely impressive."

Golden Hurricane head coach Frank Haith also knows the contest will be just as tough for his team.

“A lot is at stake for both of us,” said Haith. “I think we’re both, you know, right there, right on the cusp. I do think they are a top 25 team, and I think they’re an NCAA Tournament team. You know, I don’t care what the numbers say; I base that on the eye test and being in this business. They have no weaknesses. They have good guard play, they have very physical bigs, they’re very athletic, they’re long [and] they defend.”

Cincinnati beat the Golden Hurricane 76-57 earlier this season, but TU team captain Shaquille Harrison says a lot has changed since that meeting.

“Around that time, our team, we weren’t clicking,” explained Harrison. “We just weren’t gelling together. I think we’re gelling right now, [and] we’re a lot more focused than we were then. We’re just playing way harder than we were before, so I think we’re a way better team than we were before.”

On Thursday night, we’ll see which team "gels" together to secure a win.

Check out Haith and Harrison’s complete interviews above.