Tulsa gets its point across vs. Cincinnati

Golden Hurricane proves it belongs among elite, ousts No. 2 seed, 69-61

South at Nashville, Tenn.

Ncaa Tournament

March 20, 2000|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tulsa's credentials included 29 victories this season, two Sweet 16 appearances and NCAA tournament showings in six of the past seven years.

Yet, the Golden Hurricane played in only one nationally televised game this season and entered the NCAA tournament as a No. 7 seed -- factors that had led its players and coach to wonder about the lack of attention.

Coach Bill Self said his team has been overlooked in part because it hadn't beaten a top-ranked program, but that changed with yesterday's 69-61 win over No. 2 seed Cincinnati in the second round of the NCAA tournament's South Regional.

"After this game, people should know who we are," said guard Dante Swanson, who scored 14 points yesterday as Tulsa improved to 31-4. "But they might think this game was a fluke; we just have to go out there and show them that it wasn't."

The "fluke" reference is because the Bearcats (29-4) were without their best player, Kenyon Martin, who broke his leg during the Conference USA tournament.

Martin's loss cost the Bearcats a No. 1 seed, and, more importantly, forced coach Bob Huggins to change his offense.

"We had to change a lot of things, particularly offensively, but I thought Tulsa played well," Huggins said.

Even without Martin, the Bearcats held a 50-45 lead with a little more than eight minutes left. If nothing else, the Golden Hurricane program should gain respect for the way it came back to take control of the game.

Tulsa went on a 14-0 run, turning a five-point deficit into a 59-50 lead.

"They had us on the ropes, but with the [14-0] run, that was the game right there," Self said.

Eric Coley dominated the boards for Tulsa, setting a career high with 16 rebounds. He also scored 16 points.

"It seemed like I was in the right place at the right time," Coley said. "I was just attacking the boards, trying to get my hands on every ball."

Said teammate Brandon Kurtz: "Eric's been doing that all year. It's just that it's on a national stage now."

The Golden Hurricane controlled the first half for the most part, going up by 16 with seven minutes left, but the Bearcats rallied to cut the lead to 31-24 at halftime.

Cincinnati shot just 30 percent in the first half, and 35 percent for the game.

"We got off to that great start, fizzled in the middle, but, wow, did we play down the stretch," Self said. "They are a terrific team even without Kenyon Martin. There should not be an asterisk next to this."

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