SAN DIEGO – Rashad Smith scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half as Tulsa rallied from an early 11-point deficit to post a 76-56 win over Northern Kentucky University in the National Urea Cycle Disorders Foundation Challenge on Thursday.
Tulsa (2-0) shot 58.7 percent from the field and held NKU (0-2) to just six field goals in the second half to coast to the victory in the first meeting between the two programs. The Norse scored the first nine points of the game and eventually built a 27-16 advantage, but Tulsa closed the first half with an 18-9 run to slice the deficit to 36-34 at the break.
NKU, in its first season as a Division I member, shot just 6-for-23 (.261) in the second half and watchedTulsa score at will in the paint (24-4 advantage inside). The Golden Hurricane opened the second half with a 15-3 run to take a 49-39 lead on a Smith layup with 13:21 remaining and controlled the remainder of the game.
Smith, a 6-foot-7 sophomore forward, was 6-for-8 from the field and 11-for-12 from the free-throw line.Scottie Haralson added 10 points for the Golden Hurricane.
NKU finished 4-for-23 from 3-point range, including 1-for-12 shooting in the second half. That made rallying from a large deficit nearly impossible.
“We got into early foul trouble, but still built a double-digit lead, and then we couldn’t make a shot,” NKU head coach Dave Bezold said. “You can’t shoot 26 percent from the field after halftime and expect to beat teams. Tulsa made almost 59 percent from the field, and that’s going to get you beat virtually every time.”
The Norse encountered foul problems as Jalen Billups, Stretch Watson, Chad Jackson and Todd Johnson all picked up two fouls in the first half. Billups was 3-for-3 from the field early in the game but was forced to the bench with his second foul midway through the first half.
Freshman guard Nate Snodgrass netted 12 points to lead NKU. Billups and Eshaunte Jones each added nine points, while Watson scored eight before fouling out. Johnson led NKU with five rebounds, but Tulsa won the battle on the boards by a 31-29 margin.
NKU plays Siena (N.Y.) Saturday at 10:30 p.m., and the Norse conclude the tournament Sunday by meeting Cal State Northridge at 6:30 p.m.
NORSE NOTES: Tulsa is coached by former Kansas All-American Danny Manning, who is in his first year with theGolden Hurricane. Manning received a technical foul during the first half of Thursday’s game with the Norse…NKU's last regular-season win against a Division I opponent came on Jan. 14, 1984, when the Norse knocked off Tennessee State, 66-64 in Regents Hall.