Sixty-eight has been the magic number for winning the PSO Mayor’s Cup since 2010. In each of the matchups, the winning team always scored more than 68 points and the loser would hit 68 exactly. The superstition held mostly true at the Mabee Center Monday night when the University of Tulsa topped ORU 79-65 for the first time in four years.
“Give Tulsa a lot of credit, I thought their guys played well,” said Head Coach Scott Sutton. “They made shots and we didn’t during that [16-0 Tulsa run] and I thought that was the biggest key. We just went ice cold and they hit some tough shots, got the lead and I don’t think our guys handled adversity very well. They were definitely the better team tonight and deserved to win.”
The Golden Eagles were riddled with injury and illness allowing only seven players more than one minute of action. Redshirt senior Aaron Anderson sat out the crosstown rivalry and the team suffered because of it.
“He’s the heart and soul of this team. He’s our toughest player, best defender,” Sutton said. “He’s a guy, through the first few games, did a great job rebounding the basketball, especially as a guard. We’re a different basketball team when he’s on the floor.”
ORU had four starters in double figures, but still shot just 36.9 percent from the field, 34.6 from deep and only 57.1 from the line.
“When you struggle from the perimeter, you have to have concerted effort to get the ball inside and we didn’t do that,” said Sutton. “Saying that, I thought we had a lot of great looks. I thought our best shooters had good looks, it’s just one of those nights when the ball wouldn’t fall.”
A bright spot for the Golden Eagles was Emmanuel Nzekwesi’s double-double, his second of the season. He posted 15 points and 11 boards.
The Golden Hurricane had 15 turnovers compared to ORU’s six, but made up for them. TU outrebounded the Golden Eagles 50-29 and the Hurricane bench scored 35 points versus 1 lone free throw from Jontray Harris.
“It was a good win for us. I thought our guys played extremely hard,” said Tulsa Head Coach Frank Haith. “I thought defensively, once we started getting consecutive stops it really helped [and] we had five guys in double figures.”
The Golden Eagles are now 1-5 but Sutton is still confident in his team, rough starts and all.
“I’ve taken teams into conference 2-11, I’ve started 0-5 and gone and had great seasons. I still believe in this team,” he said. “It’s a long season. We have three months to get better before the conference tournament. I still think this team will be better than people think.”
ORU returns to play at Oakland on Thursday, Dec. 1 and Michigan State on Saturday, Dec. 3.