After trailing by 43-23 at half, the Tulsa men's basketball team stormed back, outscoring Tulane 55-23 in the second stanza to defeat the Green Wave 78-66 in front of 5,089 fans at the Donald W. Reynolds Center. Tulsa was down by as many as 22 points at the 18:22 mark of the second half.
The Golden Hurricane (15-13, 7-7 Conference USA) moved into sixth place in the Conference USA standings. Tulsa entered the day tied for sixth with Tulane (18-11, 6-8 C-USA) and UAB, which plays later Saturday.
Tulsa's 55 second-half points were the most in a half against a Division I opponent this season. The last time TU overcame a double-digit deficit was at Oral Roberts earlier this season, as the Hurricane rallied from down 17 points with 15:57 left in the second half to defeat the Golden Eagles, 72-68, on Dec. 22.
"Tonight was a tale of two halves for us. Tulane came out in the first half and dictated tempo and got whatever they wanted," coach Danny Manning said. "We came out in the second half, and our guys played the way that we like for them to always play. They scrapped and battled and to come back from down 20 points says a lot about them. I am really proud of the young men in our locker room."
"We tried to win 4 minute segments in the second half. That was our focus. So when one section was over, we wanted to win the next segment and keep going until the end of the game. Once we got down to that last four, we were in decent shape in terms of the overall flow of the game. Our guys continued to battle," Manning added.
Leading the Tulsa charge was senior Scottie Haralson, who tallied 16 points, 13 of them coming in the second half. Haralson was a perfect 5-of-5 shooting from the charity stripe. Junior Pat Swilling Jr. recorded 14 points. Freshman James Woodard collected 12 points and a game-high eight rebounds, while freshman Rashad Ray added 10.
Freshman Shaquille Harrison had a well-rounded night as the guard tied a career high with eight assists, added seven points and seven rebounds. Freshman Brandon Swannegan added nine points and four rebounds in 13 minutes of play.
After Tulsa trailing by its largest margin, 47-25 with 18:17 left in the contest, the Hurricane stormed back with a 29-8 run to make it a one-point affair, 55-54, with 7:44 remaining after Woodard nailed a three from the right side of the arc. During the Tulsa run, Swilling Jr. had seven points, Haralson tallied six and Woodard had five points.
After Tulane's Josh Davis hit a pair of free throws for the Wave, Swannegan hit a put-back layup and James Woodard's two free throws gave TU its first lead of the contest, 58-57, with 6:44 remaining.
Tulane held a 63-62 lead with 3:49 left, but Haralson was fouled while hitting an eight-foot fade away along the right baseline, and converted on the old-fashioned three-point play to give TU a 65-63 lead it would never relinquish. Haralson's three-point play started a run 14-3 for the Hurricane to close out the contest. Harrison converted on a reverse layup, and the next Tulane possession after a Black block Ray raced down the court, hit a fast break layup, and made a free throw to give Tulsa a 70-63 lead with 2:40 remaining. With Tulsa milking clock with 1:28 left, Black made a three-foot layup as the shot clock expired to give TU a nine-point lead, and the Hurricane went 6-of-8 from the line in the closing minute to seal the win.
The Hurricane went into the locker room trailing 43-23, as Swannegan paced TU with seven points, and Ray chipped in six. 16 of TU's 23 points in the first came from its bench. TU started the game off slow, but a Swilling Jr. trey made it an 11-8 contest in favor of the Green Wave. Tulane responded with a 19-3 run over a 6:02 stretch to assume a 30-11 advantage. After the Green Wave took a 37-15 lead, TU went on an 8-0 run, but Tulane countered with a 6-0 run to close the half.
For the game, Tulane's Ricky Tarrant recorded 16 points, with 12 coming in the first stanza, while Josh Davis also chipped in 16. The Hurricane outrebounded Tulane 45-34, and had 35 points from its bench compared to 16 for Tulane. Tulsa also had 11 fast break points, while holding Tulane to none.
The 22-point deficit was the biggest comeback in recorded Tulsa history and is second-most points overcome in Conference USA history. Rice overcame a 24-point second-half deficit against Houston on Jan. 17, 2007 for a 76-71 victory, while UAB also overcame a 24-point deficit against SMU on Jan. 15, 2010 for a 63-61 win.
Tulsa closes out the home season on Wednesday against SMU on Senior Night in a 7:05 p.m. tipoff.