Pat Swilling, Jr. hit his sixth three-pointer of the game with 3.8 seconds on the clock to push Tulsa past SMU, 48-47, in the Conference USA opener for both schools Sunday evening at Moody Coliseum.
Swilling's game-winner helped the Golden Hurricane avoid a potentially embarrassing loss, as the Golden Hurricane led the Mustangs 34-17 at halftime.
The Mustangs (10-6, 0-1 C-USA) used a 25-6 run in the second half to erase Tulsa's lead, moving ahead 42-40 with 5:22 left in the game. The Hurricane, however, never allowed the home team to lead by more than four points, and trailed by two with 20 seconds left before Swilling hit his big shot.
SMU opened the second half with a 9-0 run to cut the Tulsa lead to 34-26. James Woodard, who finished with six points, and Scottie Haralson, who tallied 10 points and nine rebounds, made a couple of jumpers to slow the run and make the score 38-26 with 12:34 left, but the Mustangs continued with a 25-6 run from the start of the second period to a 42-40 lead with 5:22 remaining. That run gave SMU its first advantage since it led 7-4 with 14:06 left in the first half.
SMU took a four-point lead, 46-42, with 32 seconds left on a pair of free throws by Cannen Cunningham, who finished with 12 points. Haralson connected on a three-pointer with 0:24 on the clock to cut the deficit to one point, and Nick Russell, who scored 10 points, made one of two free throws to make the score, 47-45, with 0:20 remaining. Tulsa was fouled twice on its end of the floor and was set up for the baseline out-of-bounds play with six seconds left that set up the game winner.
Tulsa shot 35 percent in the game, including 23 percent in the second half, while holding SMU to 34 percent shooting from the field. The Mustangs, which were shooting better than 50 percent for most of the second half, missed its final four field goals and made 9-of-10 free throws in the final 6:21. The Hurricane held a 37-27 advantage on the boards and tallied 14 assists on 19 made baskets. Shaquille Harrison made the only two free throws Tulsa took in the game.
Tulsa allowed a season-low 17 points in the first half as it ran out to a 34-17 lead at the break. Spurred by Swilling's five three-pointers, the Golden Hurricane went on a 20-3 run in the final 10 minutes of the period.
The teams traded the lead in the early going, but with the TU lead at 14-11, Kauri Black made a layup and Haralson swished a three to kick-start a 7-0 run the pushed the lead to 21-11. The Hurricane led, 26-17, and on the strength of a trio of Swilling treys and Harrison's free throws, scored the final eight points of the half.
In the midst of its run, TU held SMU without a point for five minutes, from free throws by Ryan Manuel at the 10:07 mark, until a basket by Nick Russell with 5:05 on the clock. The Hurricane allowed the Mustangs to shoot just 25 percent (6-24) in the first half, while shooting 45 percent (13-30) with six three-pointers, and holding a 19-14 advantage on the boards.
The Golden Hurricane returns to action Wednesday when it hits the road again to play at C-USA foe Marshall at 7 p.m. at the Cam Henderson Center.