GAME NOTES: The Tulsa Golden Hurricane hope to continue their climb back to a .500 record on Thursday when they visit Halton Arena for a Conference USA tilt against the Charlotte 49ers.
Tulsa earned its third win in a row and improved to 2-0 in league action on Sunday with an impressive, 75-71, victory over Southern Miss. Coach Danny Manning's squad started the 2013-14 campaign out with just one win through seven outings, but now has a ton of momentum and owns a 7-9 overall record. Tulsa has yet to come out of any of its five true road tests triumphant, but has a strong chance of doing so if it can keep up its excellent play on the offensive end. The Golden Hurricane have posted 79.6 ppg over the span of their last four games. They are connecting on 35.6 percent of their 3-point attempts on the season to rank third in the C-USA.
Coach Alan Major's 49ers made their return to the C-USA with a 73-68 road win at Texas-El Paso last Thursday, but fell to 1-1 in the league standings with an 85-77 setback at Texas-San Antonio next time out. Charlotte got off to a hot start this season with just one loss through its first seven games. It managed to collect notable wins over Kansas State (68-61) and Michigan (63-61) during that span, but has since fallen to a 10-5 overall record. The 49ers average 75.3 ppg on 45 percent efficiency from the field and .381. Charlotte opponents average 72.9 ppg on just 42.8 percent shooting from the floor.
This will be the fourth meeting in history between the Golden Hurricane and Charlotte, but the first as conference rivals. Tulsa leads the series 3-0. The Golden Hurricane won the last encounter, 65-50, in 2009, in Charlotte.
James Woodard tallied 18 points and eight rebounds for Tulsa in its win over USM. The 6-foot-3 sophomore guard has managed to score in double figures in every game since the start of December and averages a team-high 14.4 ppg. Woodard went just 4-of-13 from the floor against the Golden Eagles, but drained 9-of-10 shots at the charity stripe to help the Golden Hurricane outscore their foe, 24-17, at the free-throw line in the contest. Woodard had some help in the marquee win. Pat Swilling scored 17 points, while Rashad Ray and D'Andre Wright netted 10 points apiece. Manning will hope to have back second-leading scorer Rashad Smith (12.4 ppg), who has missed the first two installments of conference play after colliding with a teammate during practice last Monday.
Charlotte continued to display its remarkable depth despite losing to UTSA. Denzel Ingram netted 17 points for the 49ers while Terrence Williams contributed 15 points on 4-of-10 shooting from the field. Willie Clayton chimed in with 13 points and Pierria Henry had 12. Henry is one of the most versatile players in the C-USA, which he has made evident by averaging 11.6 ppg, 6.1 apg, five rpg and 2.4 spg. Henry had trouble controlling the ball in his last outing which helped UTSA capitalize on 17 Charlotte turnovers, turning them into 23 points. Shawn Lester is pacing the team with 12.8 ppg, but has hit on only 4-of-12 field goal attempts in C-USA play.
Charlotte has experienced a pair of losses at home this season to Davidson in overtime and also to Georgia Tech by just three points. The 49ers will be a tough out for any team that visits them at Halton Arena the rest of the way. Although Tulsa has done well historically against Charlotte and has performed well as of late, its poor play on the defensive end may be too much to overcome against this deep 49ers unit.
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