Tulsa Advances in NIT to Play at Auburn on Friday

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tulsa defeated Northwestern 68-59 in the first round of the NIT and advances to play Auburn University Friday night at 7 p.m. in Auburn, Alabama.

Ben Uzoh scored 13 points, including four free throws in the final 21 seconds, as Tulsa survived a late scoring drought to defeat Northwestern 68-59 in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament on Wednesday night.

Jerome Jordan had 16 points, including Tulsa's final basket, a slam dunk on an assist from Uzoh with 1:51 to play that put Tulsa ahead 62-57. Tulsa, 25-10, advances to play at Auburn at 7 p.m. Friday.

The Wildcats, 17-14, made nine of 23 3-pointers against the nation's second-ranked 3-point defense, but didn't do enough inside against the 7-foot Jordan, who had three blocks and altered numerous other shots.

Craig Moore, who made 5 of 11 3-pointers, and Kevin Coble each scored 17 for Northwestern.

"Tulsa is very good team that knows how to win," said Northwestern coach Bill Carmody. "They are a well-coached team, a veteran team that plays extremely hard. They are like a lot of teams in our conference in that respect."

Justin Hurtt scored 13 for Tulsa and Ray Reese had 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

"Ray has taken his game to a level that he hasn't played at before, the way you hope your seniors do," said Tulsa coach Doug Wojcik. "I couldn't be more proud of these guys. Here we are playing in March and have won 25 games two years in a row.''

After making just 2 of 13 3-pointers in the first half, Tulsa made its first two of the second half and four consecutive baskets out of the break to turn a 30-28 halftime deficit into a 44-34 lead. Tulsa led 60-49 on a layup by Glenn Andrews with 7:25 left, but Moore hit two treys and Michael Thompson scored inside to cut the deficit to 60-57 with 2:02 left as Tulsa went cold.

"We knew we were getting good shots and that once we settled down they would start to fall," said Uzoh, who scored 10 in the second half.

Moore missed a 3-pointer that could have tied the game, then Uzoh was fouled and calmly made two free throws with 21 seconds left to push the lead to 64-59.

Northwestern was making its fourth appearance in the NIT, while Tulsa has been nine times and won the tournament in 1981 and 2001.


David Hamby
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