TULSA (AP) — Senior DaQuan Jeffries scored nine of his 20 points in the final 1:02 as Tulsa held off in-state rival Oklahoma State 74-71 on Wednesday night.
“Down the stretch we were really good, but they kept making big shot after big shot,” said Tulsa coach Frank Haith. “We kept our composure and that’s a good win for us.”
The Cowboys had cut a 61-50 deficit to 63-61 before Jeffries slammed down a dunk and was fouled with 1:02 left. His free throw gave Tulsa breathing room at 66-61, but the Cowboys made three 3-pointers in the final minute to keep the pressure on. Jeffries went 6-of-6 from the free-throw line, his final two giving Tulsa a 72-68 advantage with 8.4 seconds to play.
“I think that play gave us a lot of energy,” Jeffries said of his dunk. “It’s a big win for us. That’s a good team we beat.”
Cameron McGriff made a 3-pointer for OSU with 3.4 seconds left. Martins Igbanu was fouled and made both with 3.3 remaining. Lindsey Walters put up a heave at the buzzer that was not close.
Jeriah Horne grabbed seven rebounds and scored 16 points, including four of the six 3-pointers Tulsa made in 22 attempts. Lawson Korita had 13 points and seven rebounds for Tulsa (6-3) while Igbanu had 10 points and eight rebounds.
Mike Cunningham had 14 points and Walters and Thomas Dziagwa each had 12 for the Cowboys (4-4).
“We didn’t play well enough for extended periods of time, but give Tulsa credit for that,” said Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton. “It was a great atmosphere for college basketball (with the crowd equally divided) and you could feel the energy in the air.”
Tulsa led 30-29 at halftime but took control early in the second half, scoring the first nine points and keeping OSU off-kilter. Cunningham, a graduate transfer, kept the Cowboys in the game with his mid-range jumpers but Korita frequently had an answer with one of his strongest games of his career.
“The second half we picked it up,” Korita said. “We were talking and communicating and you could see it translate on the court. I was just trying to give my energy, box out, anything I can do to contribute to the team the best way I can.”
The Golden Hurricane led 63-54 after two free throws by Igbanu with 5:15 left, but didn’t score again until Jeffries’ slam off an assist from Sterling Taplin.
Tulsa made 18 of 21 free throws, including eight consecutive in the final 1:02, while Oklahoma State made 6 of 12. The Cowboys had a 39-32 advantage on the boards but had 17 turnovers to 11 for Tulsa, only two of those in the second half.
It was a jittery start for both teams. Tulsa scored on its first possession, then went scoreless for 7:40 before a 3-pointer by Horne, but only found itself trailing 9-5 as the Cowboys were equally cold and turnover prone at the outset.
Both teams loosened up from there. Horne added two more treys and Jeffries attacked the rim as the lead changed five times. The Cowboys scored seven consecutive points to grab their largest lead at 24-19, but Tulsa responded with a 9-3 run helped by a Korita 3-pointer and two drives by Jeffries to regain the lead at 28-27 and carried a 30-29 advantage into halftime.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys lamented their mental and physical mistakes, including the turnovers and missed free throws. It was OSU’s fifth consecutive game away from home.
Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane improved to 5-3 under head coach Frank Haith against Oklahoma State in playing one of their more complete games of the season after a sluggish start.
Tulsa made just one basket in the first seven minutes and just one in the last seven minutes, but did get off to a huge start in the second half. The Hurricane was clutch on free throws, making 11 of 13 in the final 5:15 in beating a team that had knocked off ranked LSU and had a 20-point victory over Memphis.
Boynton was pleased with the effort and intensity his team displayed in the comeback down the stretch.
“I’m inspired by what I can see coming by the way this team competes, but losing is no fun.” Boynton said. “A lot of this is on me for scheduling five consecutive games away from home.”
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys return home to play another American Conference foe in Houston Saturday before facing Nebraska Dec. 16.
Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane gets it second visit from a Big 12 opponent when No. 16 Kansas State visits the Reynolds Center at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Tulsa edged the Wildcats 61-54 at a neutral site in Wichita a year ago.
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