The University of Tulsa remained undefeated in road games Wednesday, knocking off South Florida 61-51 at the Yuengling Center in Tampa, Florida for a sixth consecutive victory.
“Our guys really competed hard,” coach Frank Haith said. “It is a great win for us. I am so proud of our guys because it is not an easy win here on the road.”
For a second game in a row, the Hurricane (7-3, 4-1 American Athletic Conference) never trailed, moving to 10-0 against the Bulls in the all-time series. When a double-digit cushion shrank to six points with seven minutes left, Brandon Rachal hit a pair of free throws and a significant 3-pointer to slam the door on USF.
Rachal, TU’s leading scorer and the reigning conference player of the week, contributed 13 of his 15 points in the second half. In the first half, he played only six minutes because of two early fouls.
With Rachal on the bench, veteran guard Elijah Joiner led the Hurricane with nine points on three 3-pointers. His first 3-pointer helped TU build a 14-4 advantage in the opening minutes.
Reserves Darien Jackson and Rey Idowu also provided solid contributions in the first half, and the visitors led 26-24 at halftime. Out of the break, Austin Richie scored 10 points in the first four minutes of the second half.
Joiner, who was among four players who scored in double figures, also had seven rebounds and six assists. USF, which was picked to finish fifth in the league, did not receive any points from top scorer David Collins.
“We got balanced scoring and had great production all the way around,” Haith said. “We really did a good job of getting consecutive stops with our defense to begin the game and in the second half. Our defense was outstanding.”
After back-to-back road games, the Hurricane is scheduled to return to action at the Reynolds Center at 1 p.m. Saturday against UCF. Because of the Knights’ positive COVID-19 test results and contact tracing, their Wednesday game against Memphis was postponed, making Saturday’s game in doubt.
Also announced Wednesday, TU will continue to not sell tickets to home games but will allow a limited number of family members of both teams to attend starting with the next game at the Reynolds Center.