The Golden Hurricane men's basketball team made its American Athletic Conference debut against the University of Central Florida Wednesday morning in Orlando. TU was able to overpower UCF, for a 56-54 victory. The win moved Tulsa to 8-5, and dropped the Knights to 7-5.
TU came out ready to play, quickly gaining an 8-0 lead at the start off the game. UCF closed the scoring gap with a few free throws by Staphon Blair and a three-pointer by senior forward Kasey Wilson. TU answered by going on a 12-1 run, advancing its lead to 24-9 with 8:58 to play in the first half.
By halftime, TU was leading 36-21. Shaquille Harrison led the Golden Hurricane in scoring with 12 points. James Woodard trailed his teammate with nine, and Rashad Smith contributed eight. Tulsa had five steals, 12 fast break points, 26 points in the paint, 14 points off turnovers, and 19 rebounds.
The Golden Hurricane increased its lead to 46-31 early in the second half. By the 7:31 mark UCF had ate away at TU's lead, making it a six point game, (49-43). At the 6:04 mark, the Knights managed to tie the game 49-49.
With 3:05 left to play Woodard knocked down a huge three for TU, giving the Golden Hurricane a three-point cushion. In the final 13 seconds, Tulsa led 56-54. TU stepped up in the final stretch to keep its lead and win the game.
At the buzzer, Harrison led TU in scoring with 22 points.
The Golden Hurricane hits the floor again January 4, 2015, to host Houston in the Reynolds Center. The game is set to begin at 1:00 p.m.