Tulsa Golden Hurricane (1-2)
- Conference/Location: American Athletic Conference (Tulsa, OK)
- Head Coach: Frank Haith (3rd Season)
- Top Performer: Junior Etou (13.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG)
- Points For: 67.7 PPG (T-286th)
- Points Against: 77.3 PPG (T-253rd)
- Last Game/Streak: 77-68 Win v. New Orleans (1W)
Now entering his third season in Tulsa, head coach Frank Haith, the once-embattled Missouri program leader, has continued his winning ways with the Golden Hurricane, posting a 43-23 mark in his first two seasons with trips to both the NIT and NCAA Tournament. What year three now holds in store for a transitioning Tulsa team is the question.
The Golden Hurricane were slow out of the gate, dropping their first game of the year to Jacksonville State at home, before being lambasted on the road by Wichita State. Tulsa then bounced back against a lesser-opponent in New Orleans, where the emergence of junior guard Jaleel Wheeler (15 points), who returned from a two-game NCAA suspension, seemed to change the flow for the team. They key for Tulsa now is growth and improvement as the campaign progresses.
Haith and company are anchored in the front-court by a duo of junior forwards in Rutgers transfer, Junior Etou (13.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG), and the bruising, T.K. Edogi (8.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG). In the back-court, the aforementioned Wheeler combines with 6’ 5” off-guard, Pat Birt (10.3 PPG, 3.0 APG) and Corey Henderson Jr. (8.7 PPG, 2.3 APG) to round out a solid five-player nucleus. Just don’t expect the Golden Hurricane to go much deeper than that.
With depth remaining one of Tulsa’s bigger weaknesses, Oregon State should look to exploit a thin front-court and attack the Golden Hurricane guards on the perimeter, at every chance they get. The ability to make the Golden Hurricane use their bench and play unfavorable line-ups could a huge factor in determining the outcome of this one.
Keys To The Game
⇛ Get To The Charity Stripe...Early And Often
Tulsa won’t win any accolades for being one of the deepest teams in college basketball by any stretch of the imagination and head coach Frank Haith has shown in the past, that he will play guys heavy minutes if their is no suitable talent behind him. Oregon State needs to be aggressive on the offensive attack force Tulsa into some early foul trouble.
⇛ Utilize The Duo Of Tinkle And Eubanks On The Interior
On paper, their doesn’t seem to be one individual defender on Tulsa’s roster that has the potential to slow down forward Tres Tinkle or Drew Eubanks by themselves. For guys in Tinkle, whose averaging 17.8 PPG on the season, and Eubanks, who had a 17 point, 18 rebound performance against Lamar, that can only music to their ears. The Beavers have the advantage up-front, if an inexperience back-court can discover ways to get them the ball.
⇛ Don’t Sleep On Jaleel Wheeler
Our “Player To Watch” in this one, Wheeler is in a bit of a unique circumstance, as a junior college transfer from Kilgore College, who has only officially suited up for the Golden Hurricane once. Case in point, the scouting report on the explosive combo-guard may be thin. Wheeler scored 15 points in his season debut and has the potential to be a prolific scorer on any given night, if the match-up is right. Oregon State cannot allow a talented scorer like Wheeler to get himself going.
Player To Watch
Guard - Jaleel Wheeler (Junior)
It’s not often that a “Player To Watch” becomes one of the “Keys To The Game” single-handedly but in the mysterious case of Jaleel Wheeler, it’s rightfully deserved. Wheeler, who missed the first two games of the season due to a NCAA suspension, will be the “x-factor” for Tulsa all season long, in what could be a high-risk, high-reward type of role. With only two players besides Wheeler currently averaging double-digits in scoring (Etou, Birt), the potential for Haith to rely heavily on a high-volume type of shooter could be a dangerous dynamic for an offensively-challenge Golden Hurricane team. Oregon State will need to slow down Tulsa’s offense tempo-wise and force Wheeler to win the game from the perimeter, if they want to stop their current two-game losing skid.