This will be the first meeting between SMU and Tulsa this season, with their second meeting coming March 3. Tulsa will be the heavy favorite coming into this showdown, with their 12-3 record backing them up. But just like every game, there's an underdog, and in this one it's SMU, so can they pull off the upset?
Box Out Down Low
The biggest thing that Tulsa has on SMU is their ability to get up and grab rebounds. They currently average 41.4 rebounds per game, while SMU is around 34.6 rebounds per game. The reason behind Tulsa's dominance on the boards is their seven foot Jamaica product, Jerome Jordan. On the season, Jordan has compiled 126 total rebounds, while averaging 8.4 rebounds a game. He has surpassed ten rebounds in a game four times, and has eclipsed 20 points or more three times in the season.
Along with Jordan, the Golden Hurricanes have a pair of solid rebounders, including 6 foot 11 forward, Steven Idlet. Besides Idlet, who is averaging 6.5 boards a game, Tulsa has sophomore Joe Richard, who is averaging 6.1 rebounds a game. The trio of Jordan, Idlet, and Richard could cause problems for SMU down low. Papa Dia (6'9") and Mouhammad Faye (6'9") will have the difficult task of boxing out Tulsa's big men. The two big guys, both of which were born in Senegal, will be a key factor in determining the outcome of this game.
Shoot the Lights Out
This game will literally come down to which team shoots better. Of course, this could be said about every game, but it perfectly fits this game. Both Tulsa and SMU rank in the top five for the C-USA conference in shooting percentage, with Tulsa shooting .482% and SMU .465%. Tulsa has very good shooters, including all three of their big guys. Idlet (.580), Richard (.552), and Jordan (.545) are Tulsa's top three shooters, while Ben Uzoh leads the team in points per game (16.9) and has a field goal percentage of .506.
On SMU's side, they are led by Papa Dia, who is a .559% shooter, and averages 11.4 points a game. Derek Williams, the team's leading scorer, shoots .436% from the field, while Justin Haynes is a .600% shooter. The game has the potential to be a shootout, which could give SMU a slight advantage since they are the home team, and will have the home crowd behind their backs.
Tulsa has had SMU's number since 2005, defeating the Mustangs eight times in that span. That has to bring a sense of a "must-win" feel to this game for SMU. They will need to control the paint, which will be a difficult challenge, and will need to consistently hit their shots. Keep this in mind, in Tulsa's three losses, they were held to 75 points or less. Also, Tulsa was outrebounded in two of their three losses, and they shot less than 48% in all three of their losses. SMU will need to be able to hold off the Golden Hurricanes, and hopefully hand them their fourth loss of the season.