For the second year in a row, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane wilted under the pressure of the bubble as it fell to the Memphis Tigers 89-67.
Freshman forward Dedric Lawson scored 22 points and grabbed 12 boards. Senior guard Ricky Tarrant, Jr. and senior guard Trashon Burrell added 21 and 19 points respectively.
Tulsa was outsworked from the tip as Memphis seemed to be the more motivated team. Memphis out-rebounded Tulsa 43-35 and forced 13 turnovers.
Now, the American is a conference bubble teams around the country will be watching as the late semifinal will feature two teams that need an automatic bid to make the Big Dance.
Tune in tomorrow as the blog will be back live from the Amway Center for semifinal Saturday. Tulsa, meanwhile, will be on a flight back to Oklahoma pondering whether or not it will make the tournament.
UPDATE 12:20 a.m.
The upstart No. 10-seed Tulane Green Wave outscored the No. 2 seed Houston Cougars by 11 in the second half and pulled off the biggest upset of the day in Orlando with a 72-69 win.
With nine seconds left in the game, sophomore guard Cameron Reynolds knocked down a three to put the Green Wave up 70-69. On the ensuing Houston possession freshman guard Galen Robinson, Jr. turned the ball over.
Robinson’s turnover was indicative of a sloppy game for the Cougars as they allowed the Green Wave to stick around in the second half despite taking a eight-point lead into the break.
By the 13-minute mark, and despite the lead getting up to nine, the motivated Green Wave tied the game.
The victory was made all the more astonishing by the fact that reports came out during the game had Tulane head coach Ed Conroy being fired as soon as the season was over.
“I had two guys behind the bench put their phones up and say ‘hey coach, you’re gone,'” Conroy said. “That was fun when you’re trying to come back from an eight-point deficit.”
Houston’s faint at-large hopes are now certainly destroyed with a loss to a team, who’s RPI is below 230.
UPDATE 9:45 p.m.
In arguably the best game in the three-year history of the American Athletic Conference, the UConn Huskies (22-10) outlasted the Cincinnati Bearcats (22-10) in quadruple overtime 104-97.
The high drama came at the end of the third overtime. After Cincinnati junior guard Kevin Johnson broke a 95-95 tie with a three-pointer with .8 seconds left, UConn freshman guard Jalen Adams banked in a three from halfcourt to force a fourth overtime.
“It’s something that just happened,” Adams said. “Early in the year, me and (sophomore wing Daniel Hamilton) used to see who could make the most halfcourt shots. I guess it’s paying off.”
The Huskies trailed by as many as 11 in the first half, but fought back to take a seven-point lead with 3:36 remaining in the second half. However the Bearcats clawed their way back into the game to force overtime at 62-62
From there, the game became a slugfest with neither team leading by more than four in any of the first three overtime periods.
In the fourth overtime, UConn grabbed a five-point lead at 100-95, Cincinnati was able to cut it to three on a tip-in by senior forward Octavius Ellis with 25 seconds left. From there UConn was able to salt the game away from the free-throw line.
For UConn, they have a 3 p.m. tilt tomorrow with Temple. Cincinnati, on the other hand, is left to wonder about its NCAA tournament fate. It’s a fate that head coach Mick Cronin says should already be decided.
“I don’t even know why anyone would ask us the question, based on what we’ve accomplished this year versus the rest of the field,” Cronin said. “I understand that our conference doesn’t get as much respect by the people on TV a lot as some other people.”
UPDATE 6:25 p.m.
In the first game of the day here in Orlando, Temple (21-10) pulled away in the second half en route to a 79-62 win over South Florida (8-25).
The Owls were paced by senior guard Jaylen Bond’s 17 points and 8 rebounds. His fellow senior and backcourt mate, Quenton DeCosey added 14 points and 8 rebounds while sophomore forward Obi Enechionyia chipped in 13 and 5.
Meanwhile, the Bulls were led by junior forward Chris Perry who dropped 19 points and grabbed 8 boards. Freshman guard Jahmal McMurray added 16 points.
This blog believes the Owls are in, but they certainly saved themselves from a more nerve wracking weekend by taking care of business versus the Bulls – especially with this being the day that will make or break bubble teams around the country.
Despite that, the Owls say after last year’s disappointment their only focus is the automatic bid.
“Having that feeling from last year, we all remember it. We all remember how it felt,” Enechionyia said. “That’s something we all want to experience – getting to the tournament. Getting to play late in the season.
“Having that feeling in our minds and remembering that. I think its motivated all of us,” he continued