Tulsa (8-6) at SMU (10-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, January 6, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Moody Coliseum (8,998) -- University Park, Texas. Television: FSN. Home Record: Tulsa 5-1, SMU 5-1. Away Record: Tulsa 1-3, SMU 3-2. Neutral Record: Tulsa 2-2, SMU 2-2. Conference Record: Tulsa 0-0, SMU 2-0. Series Record: Tulsa leads, 29-13.
GAMES NOTES: Conference USA play gets underway for the Tulsa Golden Hurricane and the SMU Mustangs as the two squads collide at Moody Coliseum on Sunday night.
In its final non-conference game of the season Tulsa took down Buffalo, 63-57, at home this past Wednesday. The Golden Hurricane had lost three of their previous four games and are now 8-6 overall on the campaign. In four true road tests Tulsa has just a single win.
After a hot start to the season and Larry Brown's tenure, the Mustangs have begun to stumble with losses in four of their last six games. That includes a 59-56 setback against Wyoming in their final non-conference tilt this year. Overall SMU is 10-5 including a strong 5-1 mark at Moody Coliseum.
A year ago these teams split the season series with the road team actually winning in both instances. Tulsa still has a commanding hold on the all-time series lead, 29-13.
Even though it shot just 39.3 percent from the floor, Tulsa was able to edge out Buffalo by holding the Bulls to 32.2 percent shooting. The game was tied, 51-51, with a little more than three minutes remaining but Tulsa went on a 9-0 run down the stretch to pull away for the win.
The Golden Hurricane are not particularly impressive on either side of the ball in comparison to the rest of C-USA. Tulsa is eighth in scoring (67.1 ppg) and seventh in field goal percentage (.449). What has been hampering Tulsa is its inability to make the extra pass with the team 11th in the conference in assists (10.6 pg). On the defensive side of things the Golden Hurricane are letting up 64.2 points per game on 40.2 percent shooting. James Woodard (13.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg) is the only player scoring in double figures, while leading in rebounding and assists as well. Scottie Haralson (9.8 ppg) has the potential to score at a better rate but has had trouble finding his shot this season, as he nets just 35.6 percent of his field goal attempts.
SMU tied its game with Wyoming at 56-56 with a minute remaining on a Ryan Manuel layup. However in the final minute the Mustangs had two turnovers and failed to get off a shot attempt, as the Cowboys squeaked out the win. SMU really hurt itself with 15 turnovers which resulted in 20 points for Wyoming.
Like Tulsa, SMU doesn't impress with its offensive production. The Mustangs are scoring the 10th most points per game (65.5) in the conference, while netting just 44.6 percent of their shots from the field. The Mustangs also don't move the ball well (11.3 apg), while struggling to attack the boards (34.3 rpg). Brown's squad has excelled on the defensive end where it limits foes to 60.3 points per game on just 38.7 percent shooting, which ranks among the top 50 marks in the nation. A trio of players are scoring in double figures led by Jalen Jones (14.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg), who has also managed to be the team leader in rebounds. Nick Russell (14.2 ppg, 4.2 apg) and Ryan Manuel (12.4 ppg) provide additional scoring depth out of the backcourt.
In a game featuring two teams that play well defensively and sometimes struggle to score, having more options on offense will be a big advantage. SMU will have that edge with the trio of Jones, Russell and Manuel.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: SMU 68, Tulsa 64
01/06 10:33:07 ET