Tulsa hosted Southern Nazarene for an exhibition tune-up on Monday night before starting their regular season this Friday. The Crimson Storm of the NAIA is coming off three straight 20-win seasons and was averaging 91 points through two games this season, but the Golden Hurricane held them under 50 points with a dominating 82-47 win in front of 4,403 fans.
"I'm pretty pleased," said TU head coach Doug Wojcik. "We kept them under 50 points. They had only played two games, but they were averaging 91 a game. They've got two Division-1 transfers on that team - the big kid inside, Lightfoot, is a big strong kid.
"Everything was pretty good. I thought our defense midway through the second half was pretty active. The one thing we need to work on is free throw shooting."
Southern Nazarene started the game by taking a quick 2-0 lead, but that only lasted 20 seconds, and it would be their only lead of the game.
TU controlled the game throughout and methodically built a 17-7 lead over the first six minutes. Ten Hurricane players rotated during the first 20 minutes, including the three freshman newcomers. Guard Donte Medder, wing Bryson Pope and forward Kodi Maduka all hit baskets and collected rebounds to help Tulsa to a comfortable 42-25 halftime lead.
The Crimson Storm made a push at the beginning of the second half, nailing three triples to pull within 46-34. But Tulsa was re-energized by its preseason all-conference seniors.
Jerome Jordan hit a long jumper, followed by a lay-up on the next possession. Ben Uzoh then hit a three-pointer to push the lead back to 19 points.
In the final fifteen minutes, Tulsa blew the game open with an 18-2 burst that blossomed into a 32-5 run. The Hurricane was in front 78-39 at the 2:26 mark and cruised to victory.
Jordan led the way with 16 points, 14 rebounds, two assists and two blocks in just 25 minutes. Uzoh was impressive in his 29 minutes, adding 12 points, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals.
Steven Idlet started at power forward and played 24 minutes, contributing 12 points, five rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Junior guard Justin Hurtt was extremely steady, chipping in 11 points, three rebounds and two assists.
The most impressive group of the night may have been the three freshmen, simply due to the fact that they were all three major contributors, combining for 20 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Donte Medder was on the floor for 25 minutes, and while he made some of the typical freshman mistakes, he was very efficient. He did have two turnovers, but he hit 3-of-6 shots for seven points to go along with three rebounds, two steals and an assist.
"Donte will continue to get better," Wojcik described. "He's really efficient. In the scrimmage (against Oklahoma) and this game, he's 8-for-15. He's pretty efficient from the floor for a true freshman. He really sets up well for his jump shot."
In 18 minutes, Bryson Pope scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds. He also had two assists and electrified the crowd in the first half with a one-handed slam over a defender on the break.
"I think Bryce played his game," said Wojcik. "The first three-pointer, he wasn't ready to shoot, the second three-pointer he was ready to shoot. He gets stuff in transition. He gets tough rebounds. He has to guard a kid like (Xavier) Alexander, who is strong. We're kind of bringing him along to follow in the defensive stopper mold that Ray (Reese) was in."
Kodi Maduka was only in the game for 10 minutes, but it was an effective 10 minutes. He supplied five points, five rebounds and two assists, using his long arms to force Southern Nazarene into turnovers. He also made it to the charity stripe for five shots due to his aggressive play.
"The biggest surprise is Kodi," Wojcik stated. "You could see by our reaction on the bench. It's just incredible how much he gets his hands on balls. He's like this baby colt running around out there, and he gets his arm out there. He's been the biggest surprise."
Overall, it was an excellent performance for the Golden Hurricane, which looks ready to start the season. TU shot 58.2-percent from the floor and held their opponent to just 27.3-percent shooting. Tulsa also hit 40-percent from beyond the arc and limited turnovers to just 14.
The only knock was the free-throw shooting, as the Hurricane connected on just 12-of-21.
Stay tuned to InsideTulsaSports.com, as we will provide player analysis from the game, as well as a photo feature of the newcomers.