Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Conference USA (23-11, 10-6)
Big Wins: 12/2 Oklahoma State (86-65), 2/3 Marshall (73-69), 3/11 vs Marshall (80-64)
Bad Losses: 11/28 at Missouri State (75-83), 12/22 vs Nebraska (70-74), 2/17 at Marshall (58-64)
Coach: Doug Wojcik
Why They Can Surprise:
Tulsa has one of the most underrated inside/outside duos in all of college basketball. Senior Ben Uzoh has been a big part of the program for the last four years. He has been a leader of this team for a couple years now, but he has saved his best performances for his senior campaign. Uzoh is a capable outside shooter, but the 6-3 point guard does most of his scoring by attacking the basket. While attacking the basket Uzoh often creates opportunities for his teammates and dishes out 4.6 assists per game. Uzoh is even a quality rebounder for a point guard.
Jerome Jordan is the interior threat and has absolutely dominated the paint this season. The 7-0, 250 pound senior could have bolted to the NBA last year, but he opted to return to Tulsa for one more go around and work on a few things. He is certainly a great scorer under the basket and averages 15.2 points per game and he dominates the glass as well. However, it is his defensive presence and his 2.4 blocks per contest that have made him such a great player and a probable first round NBA Draft pick.
Why They Can Disappoint:
Tulsa plays pretty straight up basketball. They will not turn the ball over too much, but they very, very rarely create their own turnovers. That leads to a stagnant offense at times, but with a big guy like Jordan under the basket it is not a bad idea to slow things down and it is rare for the Golden Hurricane to slump offensively, so the need for easy buckets off turnovers is minimal. However, the shooting on the team is not very good either. Justin Hurtt has emerged as a great long range threat, but players like Donte Medder and Bryson Pope need to add more quality minutes off the bench or the offense can take a quick nose dive when Uzoh needs a break and Hurtt’s shot is not falling.
Who To Watch:
The forward positions are where Coach Doug Wojcik has moved things around a little bit. Steven Idlet, Joe Richard and Bishop Wheatley have all earned some starts, as has Pope when the team wanted to play a little smaller. Wheatley is the prototypical glue guy and does a little bit of everything, but is not much of a threat to score. Idlet and Richard are not great scorers either. But they are all quality rebounders and that is why Tulsa ranks in the top 20 nationally in rebounding margin.
Ben Uzoh, Senior, Guard, 15.3 ppg, 4.6 apg, 4.7 rpg
Justin Hurtt, Junior, Guard, 14.2 ppg, 1.7 apg
Bishop Wheatley, Senior, Forward, 5.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg
Steven Idlet, Sophomore, Forward, 6.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.0 bpg
Jerome Jordan, Senior, Center, 15.2 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.4 bpg
Donte Medder, Freshman, Guard, 5.0 ppg, 1.1 apg
Bryson Pope, Freshman, Guard, 4.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg
Joe Richard, Sophomore, Forward, 5.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.4 (111th in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.8 (85, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.8 (59, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.7 (27, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.9 (285, 11)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: na
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.1 (104, 3)
Rebound Margin: 5.9 (20, 2)
Assists Per Game: 12.4 (209, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.3 (133, 6)
Joel’s Bracket Says: Second Round loss to Illinois