The Tulsa Golden Hurricanes may not be the top dog of AAC basketball historically, but that doesn’t mean they have to lay down to the competition this year. Although they have yet to play a ranked opponent this season, they’ve played and beat some tough unranked teams, specifically an Oregon State team that made the Elite Eight last season. Coming into Boise, Idaho as ten-point underdogs, few gave Tulsa basketball a shot in this game.
In a back and forth game, the Golden Hurricanes rattled off a 23-11 run that carried over into the second half, and a big 12-5 run to put Tulsa up 56-49 with just under five minutes to play. Unfortunately, the wheels came off of the wagon at that point, as the Boise State Broncos ended the game on a 14-2 run to steal a 63-58 win at home.
Tulsa Basketball Loses Steam in Boise
Losing the Battle of the Boards
Ask any college basketball coach to list the most important things to do to win a game and many will have winning the rebounding battle near the top. For Tulsa, their inability to box out and grab the loose ball could easily be pointed to as a key difference in this game. The Golden Hurricanes were dominated on the glass, 34-21. On the defensive glass, the Broncos corralled 25 boards while Tulsa could only bring in 15.
Limiting opponents’ opportunities is crucial and, at the end of the day, Boise State won the battle. While the Broncos only had three more offensive rebounds in the game, they made sure to limit the number of second chances Tulsa had. When you combine that with Tulsa’s 42% shooting from the field and 33% from downtown, and there aren’t many games Tulsa will pull out. While Tulsa’s two forwards Rey Idowu and Jeriah Horne both struggled with foul trouble, good fundamentals and boxing out should still make it easier to bring in more boards. The bigs needed to win in the paint and they just couldn’t do it tonight.
Free Throw Disparity
One of the things that make good teams great is free throws. During his illustrious career in college basketball, Bo Ryan often said the goal was for his team to make more free throws than the opponent attempted. Boise State probably made Coach Ryan proud as they not only did that, but they made double the amount of free throws Tulsa attempted. Although the Broncos only hit 50% of their shots from the stripe, they still beat out Tulsa, who only attempted four free throws all game.
In fairness to the Golden Hurricanes, they did make all four of their free throws. Historically, however, in tight games, the team that wins the free throw battle wins the game. Some fans may raise their eyes at the foul disparity, as Tulsa committed 17 while Boise State only committed 12. With that being said, Tulsa needed to attack the paint more, and instead, they settled too often. Combine their style of play with the Broncos’ discipline on defense, and the moment the shots stopped falling, Tulsa was doomed. If Tulsa wants to be taken seriously in the AAC this year, they have to get to the stripe much more consistently.