Wednesday night was hardly the Tulsa homecoming Memphis coach Tubby Smith envisioned. The veteran coach led the Golden Hurricane to 79 wins over four seasons (1991-95) and a pair of Sweet 16 appearances in the NCAA tournament. Those lines on Smith's resume were good enough for some cheers during pregame introductions, but little more on a night his Tigers saw a three-game winning streak end.
Tulsa scored seven straight points after Dedric Lawson
tied the game at 69 with just under 2:30 to play to clinch its eighth win of the season. The Golden Hurricane is now 8-7 overall and 2-1 in American Athletic Conference play. Memphis falls to 12-5 (2-2).
Junior Etou led the way for Tulsa with 23 points and 13 rebounds. His three-point play with 1:15 left gave Tulsa a 74-69 lead, plenty of cushion as the game unfolded.
Tulsa hit 25 of 30 free throws, while the Tigers missed 10 of 23 shots from the charity stripe. Dedric Lawson led Memphis with 26 points and point guard Jeremiah Martin
added 20. Fresh off being named the AAC's player of the week, Tiger guard Markel Crawford
was held to eight points. The Golden Hurricane dominated the boards with a 41-29 rebounding edge.
Memphis trailed by 10 (51-41) early in the second half, but roared back and took the lead on a steal, layup, and free throw by Martin with 10:30 to play. But the Tigers were unable to sustain a defensive presence over the game's final ten minutes, perhaps an indication of fatigue for a team with little bench support.
The Tigers return to FedExForum Saturday to host USF in a game scheduled to tip off at 5 p.m.