Rashad Smith scored 18 points and James Woodard assed 15 points to lead Tulsa to a 66-56 Conference USA at Rice Saturday afternoon at Tudor Fieldhouse.
Brandon Swannegan matched his career high with 10 points, and Smith and Woodard each grabbed seven rebounds for the Golden Hurricane (11-12, 6-3 C-USA). Max Guercy scored 17 points to lead the Owls (7-16, 2-8 C-USA).
The Tulsa defense held Rice to a .376 field goal percentage (18-of-49) – the sixth straight opponent the Hurricane has held below 40 percent shooting from the field. TU made 43 percent of its field goals (22-of-51) and outrebounded the Owls 37-35.
Tulsa led 27-23 at the half, and coming out of the break, Rice pulled as close as 29-28. TU responded when Smith hit a jumper and propelled the Hurricane on a 9-2 spurt and a 38-30 lead with 12:53 left in the game.
Rice pulled within 42-38 on a 3-pointer by Austin Ramljak, but TU got a layup and free throw combo from Lew Evans to go back up by seven, 45-38, with 9:57 left. The lead bounced around between four and seven points until the final minute.
With 1:11 remaining, the Tulsa lead was four points at 57-53, when Smith converted an old fashioned three-point play with a layup and the foul shot. Peete converted a pair of free throws, and Smith hit a layup to extend the lead to 64-53 with 0:23 to play. The Tulsa lead grew as large as 12 points at 66-54 with 0:16 left, and a layup by Guercy provided the final 66-56 margin.
Both teams started slow offensively, as Rice scored the first points on a 3-pointer by Ramljak at the 16:51 mark of the first half. The Owls took 5-0 lead to start the game and led 11-6 before Tulsa fought back to tie the score at 11-11 with 9:38 remaining on a jumper by D'Andre Wright.
With TU down 23-18, Woodard sunk three free throws and Swannegan made a layup to tie the score and spark a 9-0 run to end the half. The Hurricane took a 27-23 into halftime.
Woodard and Swannegan combined for 18 of the 27 Tulsa first-half points, and the two players put in the final 12 points of the period for the Golden Hurricane.
Tulsa tallied 14 assists to 11 turnovers, scored 32 points in the paint, and converted 20-of-31 free throws (.645). Rice knocked down seven 3-pointers and made 13-of-20 free throws, while compiling 15 assists and 13 turnovers. Both teams totaled 10 points off turnovers.