Led by Shaquille Harrison's 15 points and James Woodard's 13 points, Tulsa toughed out a 65-60 road win at Conference USA rival UTEP in front of a crowd of 11,019 at the Don Haskins Center Thursday night.
The Golden Hurricane (16-12, 11-3 C-USA) won its sixth game in a row and fourth consecutive road game, and moved into a tie for first place in the C-USA standings. Rashad Smith put up 11 points, D'Andre Wright grabbed nine rebounds and added six points, and Rashad Ray put up eight points for TU.
With its 11-3 C-USA record, TU is tied with Middle Tennessee, Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss at the top of the league standings.
The box score paints an evenly-matched game. Both teams shot 41 percent from the floor and scored 36 points in the paint. Tulsa made 17-of-23 free throws, while UTEP made 18-of-23 free throws. Tulsa made the only two 3-pointers of the game, and UTEP held a slight 37-34 edge in rebounds. TU tallied 13 turnovers, 16 points off of 17 UTEP turnovers and 10 fastbreak points.
Two of those fastbreak points gave Tulsa a five-point lead in the final minute. Ray took the inbounds pass against the press and raced all the way down the court to an easy layup, making the score 63-58 with 0:43 left. Harrison extended the lead to 65-58, making a pair of free throws with 0:11.1 remaining. He was fouled driving to the basket on a break.
The score was tied 48-48 with 6:05 to play. Wright hit a baseline jumper to put the Golden Hurricane ahead 50-48, giving it a lead it would not relinquish. The basket was the first field goal for TU in 6:32. The Hurricane, which had a 42-39 lead with 12:15 left, made six free throws in that span, while UTEP scored nine points.
From the Wright jumper, Tulsa extended its lead to 54-58 on a Harrison layup and driving slam dunk. The Hurricane lead fluctuated between three and six points until Harrison's foul shots with 0:11 remaining.
Tulsa scored six of the first 10 points of the second half to extend its lead to 36-28. The Hurricane led 38-31, but UTEP used an 8-0 run to take a 39-38 lead on a layup by Bohannon. It was the first lead for the Miners since 18:45 of the first half when it led 4-0.
Smith and Harrison then converted consecutive layups to put Tulsa back ahead 42-39, setting up the sequence of the final 6:05.
UTEP struck first, scoring two baskets and taking a 4-0 lead early. Tulsa responded with six straight to take a 6-4 advantage at the 16:50 mark, and the scoring went back and forth for the next three minutes. With the score knotted at 10-10, the Golden Hurricane went on a 7-0 run to take a 17-10 lead on a layup by Smith with 10:41 to play in the half.
The seven-point lead was the largest for Tulsa until the final minute of the half. The Miners cut the lead to 17-14, and TU held steady with the advantage until a fastbreak dunk by Hunter tied the game at 22 apiece and firing up the crowd. The Hurricane responded immediately with a layup by Rashad Ray, sparking an 8-0 run capped by a 3-pointer from Woodard that gave TU a 30-22 lead with 0:28 left in the half. UTEP scored a put-back layup from Cedrick Lang to make the halftime score 30-24.
The Golden Hurricane returns home to play host to UTSA at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Donald W. Reynolds Center. It is Senior Day and Legends Day, as TU will honor seniors Barrett Hunter and Tim Peete in a pregame ceremony. TU will also honor its basketball legends, as well as the 1993-94 Sweet Sixteen squad on Sunday.