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January 24, 2014

Tulsa slips past MTSU

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - James Woodard scored 16 points, including the go-ahead three-pointer, to lift Tulsa to a 58-53 win over Middle Tennessee on Thursday night.

"Tonight was a very exciting game to say the least," said Tulsa head coach Danny Manning. "James (Woodard) came out and played exceptionally hard. We had some guys who had some good individual performances. We were just fortunate enough to make a couple of shots, make a couple of plays on our home court, with our energy, feeding off the fans and the crowd to get the win. That's a really tough team to beat and we are really fortunate."

Tulsa (9-10, 4-1 Conference USA) took a 34-26 advantage into the break but had to scramble in the second half as Middle Tennessee took away the lead three times in the close contest. With the score tied at 53 and just four seconds left, Woodard nailed his third trey of the night to reclaim the Tulsa lead, and followed it up with a pair of free throws to put the game out of reach.

"(Woodard) got a wide open court, a clean enough look in that situation," said Manning. "It reminded me from the Indiana State shot that he made except that it was on the other side of the court. For James to display the patience that he displayed in the second half was, I was very happy to see that because that was his only field goal in the second half and he continued to stay focused and defend and rebound and do the little things to stay involved in the game.

"When you do that throughout the course of the game, at the end of the game when you get a chance to make a shot, you are in rhythm. You've got a feel for what's going on. He made a huge shot for us."

Lew Evans contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Golden Hurricane, who won their second straight after an overtime loss to Charlotte last week.

"You talk about Lew Evans. Lew gets knocked down shooting a three, nails his three free throws and gets a huge put back on a free throw attempt," Manning said. "He finished the game with 11 rebounds and 12 points. He did an outstanding job. He did a really good job playing defense. We couldn't guard (Shawn) Jones. We double teamed, we fronted him, came off guards. He's a grown man."

Middle Tennessee (12-7, 2-2) outscored Tulsa in the second half, 27-24, but ultimately couldn't erase the eight-point halftime deficit.

Shawn Jones led the Blue Raiders with 22 points.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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