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January 16, 2013

Tulsa claws past UTEP

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Kauri Black scored 11 points and James Woodard added 10 to lead Tulsa to a 45-42 victory against UTEP on Wednesday night.

"Tonight's game, according to the stat sheet, was a battle of two really good defensive teams, in terms of the defensive field goal percentage," said Tulsa coach Danny Manning. "For awhile there offensively, we struggled to get good looks and you have to give UTEP credit defensively, but I thought we also guarded them fairly well and that gave us a chance to win the ballgame.

"We struggled turning the ball over and we gave up too many second chance points, but I thought for stretches there we guarded very well."

The Golden Hurricane (11-7, 3-1 Conference USA) won a game marred by cold shooting and turnovers, with the last miscue giving the Miners (9-7, 2-1) a chance to tie the game at the end of regulation. UTEP's McKenzie Moore made a steal with four seconds left and got the ball to Konner Tucker, but his 3-point try missed.

Tulsa admittedly did not handle the pressure well in the final minute.

"We didn't respond well at all," said Manning. "That's something we have to get better at, but that's something we practice every day and we have to go meet the ball and make sure that we're throwing crisp passes and that we get open. A couple times we got open but then we relaxed and they would come through the passing lane and get a hand on the ball and get the turnover.

"We're very fortunate to come out with a win because our press offense was not up to par in the final minute."

John Bohannon had 11 points for the Miners, who shot just 31.4 percent (16 of 51) from the floor en route to their second loss in eight games. Tucker, UTEP's leading scorer, was held to seven points on 3 of 13 shooting.

"There were a couple stretches we really locked in defensively," Manning explained. "We were really active and we created some shot clock violations. There were also some times we weren't on the same page, and they took advantage of our breakdowns. There's still some phases of the game we have to work on defensively.

"Some of those shots for UTEP, they usually make. Connor Tucker has been shooting the cover off the basketball and tonight for whatever reason, shots didn't go down for him. And it wasn't because of our defense, he missed a lot of open looks."

The teams combined for 28 turnovers.

Tulsa took the lead for good while the Miners went scoreless for a 5:25 second-half stretch. Black had four points during the 9-0 run by the Golden Hurricane, who shot 40 percent (18 of 45) for the game.

"Any time you win a conference game it's encouraging, especially if you do it on the road," said Manning. "You want to hold serve at home. For our guys to continue to battle and fight, that's what we talk about every day. We don't talk about wins and losses we talk about competing to the best of your ability on that particular day on that particular possession and our guys are continuing to buy in and we're able to play for a longer period of time without breakdowns."

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