TULSA, Okla. – Senior guard Justin Hurtt nailed a three with 8.6 seconds to play to send the game into overtime, and a trio of players helped power The University of Tulsa men’s basketball team to a 76-71 victory over the University of Houston in yet another crucial Conference matchup Saturday afternoon in front of 5,126 fans at Donald W. Reynolds Center.
Houston (11-11, 3-6 C-) fell behind by as many as 12 points in the contest, but the road side battled back in the second half and held a three-point advantage with 26 seconds to play.
Hurtt put the game in his hands and did not disappoint as he swished a trey in the waning moments over the outstretched arms of two defenders to knot the game at 66-66.
UH’s Zamal Nixon committed an offensive foul as he attempted to hit the game-winning shot with three seconds to play, and junior forward Steven Idlet mishandled an entry pass and could not convert the layup as the buzzer sounded in regulation.
Mikhail McLean put Houston ahead 68-66 with a bucket on UH’s first OT possession, but sophomore guard Scottie Haralson drained a trey and Hurtt converted a layup on the next trip down the floor to give Tulsa the 71-68 lead with two minutes to play.
Alandise Harris hit one of two free throws to bring the Cougars to within two, but Idlet and Hurtt scored on TU’s next two possessions to give the home team an insurmountable 75-69 advantage with 25 seconds to play.
Adam Brown hit a jumper to bring the score to within four, but Tulsa’s lead would prove to be too great as the Golden Hurricane picked up their third-straight win with a 76-71 triumph over the Cougars.
The win gives TU its first three-game win streak since January of last season.
Haralson and Hurtt led all scorers with 22 points each. Haralson was 7-for-12 from the field, tied his career high with six trey’s and finished the game with his highest point total since scoring 26 in the season opener against Appalachian State. Hurtt picked up his 11th 20-point effort of the year.
Idlet recorded his fifth double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Junior forward Joe Richard added eight boards and freshman guard Jordan Clarkson contributed eight points and five rebounds.
Tulsa (13-10, 6-3 C-) held a huge rebounding advantage (53-32), which allowed the home team to record 25 second-chance points to just six from Houston.
TU willed itself to victory despite being outshot from both the field (45 percent to 37 percent) and the free-throw line (68 percent to 52 percent).
Maurice McNeil led the Cougars with 21 points, Darian Thibodeaux scored 15 and Zamal Nixon added 12. Harris scored eight, pulled down 10 rebounds and added three blocks.
Tulsa jumped out to a 20-10 lead through the first six minutes of the contest, powered by a 5-for-5 effort from downtown by Haralson and five points from Hurtt.
Houston was able to battle back to trail just 25-22 with eight minutes to play in the opening half, but Hurtt scored five-straight points to push the lead back out to eight.
After more jostling throughout the remainder of the first 20 minutes, the eight-point advantage for the home team stood firm as Tulsa entered halftime with a 37-29 lead.
Tulsa drained eight three’s in the opening half, which tied the team’s season high for three’s made in a half (Wichita State, , ). On the flip side, the Cougars failed to convert on all seven of their three-point opportunities. The Golden Hurricane also outrebounded UH 24-14.
TU built its lead up to 12 points early in the second half at 43-31, but Houston slowly began to chip away as the Cougars clawed back into the contest.
Tulsa held a 48-41 advantage with 10:50 to play, but a bucket from McNeil and a three from Thibodeaux put UH behind by just two.
TU began missing free throws as Houston took its first lead of the game at 52-51 with 8:20 remaining in the contest, and the road side held a slim advantage as both teams went back and forth down the stretch.
The Cougars pulled ahead 64-60 with two minutes to play, but TU brought the margin to 66-63, and Hurtt dialed one up from distance to send the game into the extra session.
Tulsa took over in overtime and recorded its sixth conference victory of the 2010-11 campaign.