Tulsa shows golden touch

No. 12 seed Hurricane upsets Marquette on Harrington's shot, 71-69

Ncaa Tournament

March 15, 2002|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

ST. LOUIS - In a bracket filled with big-time programs with big-name players and coaches, it was easy for Tulsa to be overlooked. Quietly consistent in the NCAA men's basketball tournament over the past eight years, with two Sweet 16 appearances and a trip to the Elite Eight in 2000, the Golden Hurricane came here with a decidedly low profile.

That could change this weekend at the Edward Jones Dome.

After watching a 14-point second-half lead disappear to fifth-seeded Marquette, 12th-seeded Tulsa won the first down-to-the-wire game of this year's tournament. Senior Greg Harrington's runner in the lane went in with 14.6 seconds left, lifting the Golden Hurricane to a 71-69 victory in the East Regional first round.

Freshman Travis Diener's three-pointer just before the buzzer fell a foot short for Marquette.

"It was an old-school shot that used to be famous in the '50s and '60s," Tulsa coach John Phillips said of Harrington's shot. "We've seen him do it before, so we know it's not luck."

Tulsa (27-6) will meet fourth-seeded Kentucky tomorrow, with the winner going on to Syracuse, N.Y., next week to play the team that comes out of Maryland's bracket at MCI Center. Earlier in the day, the Wildcats had no trouble in dispatching of 13th seed Valparaiso, 83-68.

Kentucky-Tulsa will be an interesting matchup since Kentucky coach Tubby Smith was responsible for starting Tulsa's recent run of postseason success. Phillips, who was hired last spring when Buzz Peterson left for Tennessee, is the third coach since Smith left to lead the Golden Hurricane to the NCAA tournament.

"The heart and desire and the unselfishness that the Tulsa players play with night in and night out has sustained itself under different coaches," said Phillips, 55. "They pass that tradition down year in and year out."

Tulsa had a number of top performers yesterday.

First it was junior guard Antonio Reed, who, in scoring a team-high 18 points, hit his first four threes and showed his teammates they could play with Marquette (26-7). Then it was junior forward Kevin Johnson, whose inside presence (14 points, four blocked shots) helped Tulsa stretch a 34-30 halftime lead to 53-39.

And, finally, it was Harrington, the only senior and link between this year's team and the 1999-2000 team that reached the Elite Eight before losing a close game to North Carolina. The all-time winningest player in school history, as well as the school's all-time assist leader, Harrington has had the game in his hands many times before.

"I've made some and I've missed plenty," said Harrington, who had badly missed on a three-point shot when Marquette staged a furious comeback and later forced a pass inside with a little over a minute left. "I was fortunate to have a very good look at the basket."

TULSA-Harrington 4-9 4-4 12, Johnson 6-11 2-2 14, Davis 0-0 2-2 2, Swanson 3-7 0-0 7, Reed 6-12 2-3 18, Glenn 1-1 0-0 2, Parker 1-7 0-1 3, Ledoux 2-4 0-0 4, Ingram 3-6 2-2 9. Totals 26-57 12-14 71. MARQUETTE-Blankson 3-5 1-1 8, Nnamaka 2-4 1-2 5, Merritt 1-5 0-0 2, Wade 8-13 2-3 18, Henry 5-14 5-6 17, Townsend 0-1 0-0 0, Diener 2-5 0-0 6, Diggs 1-4 0-0 3, Harris 5-8 0-1 10, Sanders 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-59 9-13 69. Halftime-Tulsa 34-30. 3-point goals-Tulsa 7-19 (Reed 4-8, Ingram 1-2, Parker 1-2, Swanson 1-3, Johnson 0-1, Harrington 0-3), Marquette 6-18 (Diener 2-5, Henry 2-5, Blankson 1-3, Diggs 1-4, Townsend 0-1). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Tulsa 37 (Harrington, Ingram, Swanson 6), Marquette 28 (Wade 7). Assists-Tulsa 12 (Harrington 3), Marquette 10 (Wade 6). Total fouls-Tulsa 12, Marquette 18. A-25,251.

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