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January 6, 2013

Tulsa opens C-USA play tonight at SMU

DALLAS - The Tulsa basketball team opens Conference USA play on the road when it takes a trip to Dallas to face SMU at 7 p.m. Sunday at Moody Coliseum.

Sunday's contest, the league opener for both teams, will be televised nationally by Fox Sports Network. The game will also be broadcast on KRMG AM 740/102.3 FM in Tulsa.

The Golden Hurricane (8-6) is playing its C-USA opener on the road for the third straight year and sixth time in eight seasons. TU closed out non-conference play with a 63-57 defeat of Buffalo on Wednesday. The Mustangs enter the game with a 10-5 record, and are coming off a 59-56 defeat to Wyoming, their first home loss of the season.

TU Head Coach Danny Manning will go up against his former coach in SMU head man Larry Brown for the first time as coaches. Both men are in their first seasons at the respective schools. Manning was the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four when he led Brown-coached Kansas to the 1988 NCAA Championship.

"We're looking forward to playing against SMU. Obviously it's our first conference game, and then with the ties I have to (SMU Head) Coach (Larry) Brown and what he's meant to me throughout my career, coaching me in college, and knowing (SMU assistant) Coach (Tim Jankovich) and all the other guys on the staff," Manning said. "I think it's kind of cool that we're playing each other in the first game. Being at new programs, and our first conference game. I think it's kind of cool. I'm looking forward to it."

The Golden Hurricane averages 67.1 points and 37.0 rebounds per game, and shoots 45 percent from the field, 33 percent from three-point range and 66 percent from the free throw line. TU allows 64.5 points and 33.4 rebounds per contest, as well as a .402 field goal percentage and a .324 three-point percentage.

Freshman guard James Woodard leads the active Golden Hurricane players in scoring, averaging 14.2 points, with 6.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Senior guard Scottie Haralson averages 9.8 points and 3.0 three-pointers per contest. Junior guard Pat Swilling, Jr., averages 9.9 points in his seven games played, and freshman guard Rashad Ray averages 7.1 points. Senior forward Kauri Black puts up 6.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per contest.

This is the 43rd meeting between Tulsa and SMU. Tulsa leads the series, 29-13. The Golden Hurricane has won 12 of the last 14 games in the series. TU and SMU have split each of the last two season series, with each team winning on the road. From 2006-10, the Hurricane won 10 straight vs. SMU. Last season, SMU claimed a 57-55 win in Tulsa on a last-second shot, while Tulsa took home a 66-60 win over the Mustangs in Dallas. Tulsa holds a 17-6 advantage against the Mustangs in Dallas, and an 11-5 mark at home. The series is tied 1-1 on a neutral court.

"We're looking forward to the game. Both teams want to get out to a good conference start," said Manning. "There will be a lot of hugs and love before the game. I think once the game starts, the competitor in all of us will come out and we'll try to figure out ways to help our team be the most successful. Once that game is over, we'll go back to the hugs and love."

This will be just the second all-time meeting between head coaches who once were the MOP and head coach of an NCAA Championship team. The only other set: Everett Dean (coach) and Howie Dallmar (MOP) of 1942 NCAA Champion Stanford later met as Dean-coached Stanford and Dallmar-coached Penn played on Dec. 29, 1950. The former player defeated the coach in that contest as Penn won, 59-58.

"I think the no-fun component is that somebody is going to lose the game. But that's for every game, we all know that, and we've all been around enough to understand it. The fun part is competing against people that you know, people that you care about," Manning said. "It will be a competitive game, in terms of both coaching staffs and teams doing whatever they can to win. It will be something that we will enjoy, because it gives us the chance to be involved in a wonderful game that has impacted our lives in so many different ways."

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