Tulsa storms past Southwestern Christian, 102-45
It was the type of game that players like Keshawn Williams and Manny Ugboh needed.
Both part of the rotation for Tulsa but needing more minutes and confidence, Williams and Ugboh both stepped up their games and hopefully added confidence to their potential.
Williams and Ugboh scored 20 and 13 points, respectively, to lead Tulsa to a 102-45 victory over Southwestern Christian University on Wednesday night at the Reynolds Center.
A dynamic freshman backup point guard from Chicago Heights, Williams has shown flashes of excellence. But he showed that, given extended time, he can be the point guard of the future for the Golden Hurricane.
Williams played 26 minutes filling in for senior starter Elijah Joiner, who was held out as a precaution because of an achilles tendon that was bothering him a little bit in Tulsa's win at Memphis Monday night.
Williams was a perfect 8 of 8 from the field, which included two of two on three-pointers. He was two of two on free throws as well, and he had nine assists, six rebounds, and a steal to go along with his 20 points.
Williams came off the bench to spell Keyshawn Embery-Simpson, who started at point guard, moving over from his starting position at shooting guard. Embery-Simpson had nine points, seven rebounds, three assists and a steal in 26 minutes.
"Keshawn is super talented. But like most freshmen, he struggles with confidence," said Tulsa coach Frank Haith. "So it was good for him to get out there and get his feet wet for extended minutes because I think he can really help us.
"I'm really encouraged, because we've seen it in practice - it just hasn't been in games. We had a scrimmage where he had 25 (points). He is so talented, but just like most high school kids, he's got to get used to the speed of the game."
The 6-foot-3 Williams came into the game averaging 3.2 points, 1.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and shooting just 20.8 percent from the field in 11.8 minutes per game.
For the 7-foot Ugboh, a senior in his second year at Tulsa after transferring in from junior college, his play is showing gradual, marked improvement. Ugboh came into the game averaging 4.5 points and 2.7 rebounds in 13.2 minutes, and he's started every game this year. Last season, he averaged 1.7 points and 1.7 rebounds in 15 starts and 8.2 minutes per game.
Ugboh connected on six of seven field goals and had four rebounds to go with his 13 points in just over 14 minutes for Tulsa (4-3, 1-1 AAC).
"Manny was great tonight," Haith said. "When you look at it, he's gotten better and better over the last couple of games. He was really good up there in Memphis. He didn't score a whole lot, but he really affected their bigs. They've got five-star guys there, and he was terrific in understanding who he is as a player."
Ugboh and Illinois State transfer Rey Idowu have been manning the center position all season. Although not quite as proficient as recently graduated standout big man Martins Igbanu, the pair are coming on.
"We don't have a Martins, but I like what those guys collectively bring to the table," Haith said.
Idowu, who had seven points against Southwest Christian, came into the game averaging 8.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 23.3 minutes. The 6-9 Idowu averaged 4.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 15.7 minutes for Illinois State last season.
"I think Rey's being here has helped (Ugboh)," Haith said. "Because Rey has a tremendous motor. I always say this about big guys. If you have a great motor and can catch the ball, we can coach you and you can get better.
"And I believe (Ugboh) is beginning to see this because Rey has a tremendous motor, he has really good hands, he can pass. And I think that has really encouraged and challenged Manny. Now you see Manny has put in excellent work, and we're going to need him."
Brandon Rachal, Tulsa's leading scorer and rebounder at 13.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds in only 17 minutes.
Tulsa emptied its bench midway through the second half and players like Peyton Urbancic, Christian Shumate, Ryan Gendron and Bradley Alcime all scored, with Urbancic scoring seven points.
Southwestern Christian (1-4) is a NAIA team whose school is located in Bethany, Oklahoma. The student enrollment is 512.
Tulsa's next game is at home against No. 6 Houston on Tuesday, Dec. 29 at 8 p.m.