Hartford, Conn–Martins Igbanu scored a career-high 28 points, while Darien Jackson and Brandon Rachal each chipped in 14 for Tulsa (14-6, 6-1 American). which was coming off a 40-point rout of No. 20 Memphis on Wednesday.
Tulsa saw a nine-point lead evaporate in the second half but rallied to beat the Huskies 79-75 in overtime to pick up their fifth straight win and sixth in the last seven games.
James Bouknight led the way with 16 points, while Christian Vital and sophomore Sidney Wilson chipped in 11 and 12 points, respectively. Freshman Akok Akok had his best game of the year, with 13 points, seven boards, and seven blocks, all career highs.
“I thought our team did a great job of handling the adversities that come with playing on the road and did some really gut-checking things,” Frank Haith said.
UConn shot 27% from downtown, with Vital going cold 0-8 from the floor. The Huskies, who are consistently one possession away from closing games out, but somehow lose focus down the stretch.
The game started with nearly three minutes of scoreless play, UConn settled for deep threes against Tulsa’s vaulted 2-3 zone, and the Golden Hurricanes were bothered by Husky ball pressure on the perimeter. Between the two teams, six field goals were scored in 10 minutes.
Tulsa was content to let the Huskies shoot from the outside. The Golden Hurricanes opened up a nine-point lead with 14:18 left, and the Huskies were looking for an offensive spark.
UConn moved the ball well north and south through the zone but just couldn’t knock down the open shots. The Huskies continued success on defense made up for the missed looks on offense. However, some sloppy play to close out the half led to a five-point deficit for the Huskies heading into the half. Tulsa led by five points at halftime and was up 41-32 after a layup from Jackson early in the second half.
UConn made some adjustments on the defensive side of the ball Gaffney, Bouknight, and Akok Akok got UConn’s crowd back into the game with charges, coast-to-coast buckets, and blocks. The three freshman — along with Sidney Wilson — gave Gampel some energy as they put on a 12-0 run together.
A 3-pointer from Jeriah Horne from the left-wing tied the game at 58 with just under two minutes to play and a goaltending call on Akok Akok with 50 seconds on the clock left put the Hurricane up by two points.
Tulsa scored the first six points of extra time on a layup by Rachal, an alley-oop dunk by Jackson and pair of free throws from Igbanu, then held off the Huskies the rest of the way.
“We emphasize the next play,” said Igbanu. “When something happens, it’s happened in the past, you can’t do anything about it. If you are able to move forward and stop worrying about the past, I think you’ll be in very good shape and I think that’s something this team does really well.”
Tulsa outrebounded UConn 42-34 and outscored the Huskies 42-32 in the paint. The Golden Hurricane shot 49.1% from the floor while holding UConn to 39.7%.