Freshman James Woodard scored seven of his game-high 22 points in the final three minutes as the Tulsa Golden Hurricane pulled away from the University of Buffalo for a 63-57 victory in front of 3,894 fans at the Donald W. Reynolds Center on Wednesday night.
Pat Swilling added 11 points and Scottie Haralson had 10 points, despite not hitting a three-point basket on the night, for the Hurricane. Woodard also led Tulsa with eight rebounds, while Haralson had a team-high four assists. Buffalo's Javon McCrea had 22 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Bulls, while Auraum Nuiriankh also grabbed 11 boards. The two teams each grabbed 41 rebounds.
"Today was a game of offensive struggle from both teams in terms of shooting the basketball. I think you can give both teams a little credit defensively, but on both sides of the court players missed shots they would normally make, or should have made, or shot a lower percentage then normal," said Tulsa's Danny Manning.
Tulsa (8-6) scored nine straight points, seven by Woodard, to break a 51-51 tie and take a 60-51 lead over Buffalo (5-8) with just 0:32 remaining in the game.
Woodard scored a layup at the 3:03 mark to put Tulsa ahead 53-51. Two possessions later the freshman hit a three-pointer with 1:59 to play for a 56-51 Tulsa lead. His layup with just under one minute remaining gave the Hurricane a seven-point lead
After Tulsa led by two points at halftime, 26-24, the visiting Bulls took the lead early in the second half and held the advantage for nearly 10 minutes.
Buffalo's Richie Sebuharara knocked down a three-pointer to start the second half and give the Bulls a 27-26 lead. Buffalo held onto the lead until Swilling's three-point basket at the 10:53 mark tied the game at 43-43.
Swilling connected on another three-pointer to put the Hurricane ahead 46-43 at the 8:59 mark. Kauri Black's layup at the 6:29 mark gave Tulsa its biggest lead at 49-43 since early in the first half. Buffalo cut the Hurricane lead to one point at 49-48 on a three-pointer from the right corner by Will Regan with 4:40 remaining in the game.
Brandon Swannegan's first two points of the game came on a hook shot at the 3:36 mark to put the Hurricane ahead by three points at 51-48. The Bulls' Tony Watson knotted the score at 51 with a three-pointer just 12 seconds later. Woodard then went on his seven-point streak to put the Hurricane ahead 58-51 with 0:54 on the clock.
To start the game, Tulsa jumped out to a 9-0 start in the first four minutes and never trailed in the opening session. After Tulsa's nine-point opening surge, Buffalo then outscored the Hurricane 10-4 over the next five minutes cutting the lead to 13-10. Woodard's jumper at the 8:25 mark put Tulsa up by five points at 17-12, which would be the largest lead the rest of the first 20 minutes.
In the final 5:03 of the first half, there were two ties at 22-22 and 24-14 before Swilling knocked down a jump shot with 0:05 on the clock to give the Hurricane a 26-24 halftime lead.
Both teams shot under 40-percent from the field in the first 20 minutes, including each team scoring just one three-pointer. Woodard's nine points led the Hurricane scoring in the first half, while McCrea was Buffalo's leading scorer in the first-half with 13 points.
Tulsa goes on the road to open Conference USA play against the SMU Mustangs this Sunday, Jan. 6th. The game pits Head Coaches Danny Manning for Tulsa against his college coach Larry Brown as the game tips off at 7 pm on FOX Sports Network. Tulsa will then travel to Huntington, West Virginia on Jan. 9th to play the Marshall Thundering Herd.