Houston arrives in town riding a three-game winning streak, including its most recent 71-68 upset over SMU on February 1 as a six-point underdog. However, the Cougars now enter a hornet’s nest in the Donald W. Reynolds Center where an angry Tulsa squad awaits to avenge its humiliating 81-66 loss in Houston two weeks ago.
Tulsa has won ten of the last 13 meetings in this series (5-2 ATS L/7), including prevailing in the last six meetings in Tulsa. Houston will also likely be without leading scorer Robert Gray, Jr., who is averaging 17.3 points in 28:09 minutes per game this season.
Gray missed Houston’s last game with an ankle injury, and I have always maintained that teams always respond well in the first game following a key injury (Houston defeated SMU without Gray) but falter in the subsequent contest without their leader. The likely absence of Gray, who has been downgraded to doubtful according to SportsInsights.com, is compounded by the fact that
Tulsa enters tonight’s rematch with nine seniors on its roster, the most seniors of any one team in the country. In fact, Tulsa returns 98.5% of its scoring and 96.8% of its minutes played from last year’s 23-11 squad. The Golden Hurricane also returned 88% of their rebounding, 99% of their assists, 99% of their steals and 100% of its blocks from last season.
Over its last eight games, Tulsa has held opponents to 62.8 points, a .385 field goal percentage and a .279 three-point percentage. The Golden Hurricane have forced 122 turnovers (15.3) over that stretch and have outscored their opponents by an average of 7.4 points per game. Tulsa has held 17 of its 22 opponents under 50 percent from the field this season, including nine straight.
From an offensive standpoint, James Woodard and Shaquille Harrison make up the top scoring duo in the American Athletic Conference, combining to average 31.6 points per game (679 total points) and 42 percent of the team’s total points. Tulsa also ranks 12th in the nation in turnover margin, causing 3.9 more turnovers that its opponents. Harrison ranks 32nd in the nation with 2.1 steals per game.
Tulsa is 37-19 SU under second year head coach Frank Haith, and the Golden Hurricane excel within the friendly confines of the Donald W. Reynolds Center where they are 214-64 (.770) over the last eighteen years. Interestingly, 138 of Tulsa’s 214 home wins have been by double digits and I expect that trend to continue this afternoon.
The Golden Hurricane have won 127 of their last 156 home games for an impressive .814 win percentage. With Tulsa playing with legitimate revenge and standing at 3-1-2 ATS in its last six games following a loss, take the Hurricane and invest with confidence.