GAME NOTES: The Tulsa Golden Hurricane won the inaugural CBI postseason event in 2008 and will look to win the crown again as they tip-off their tournament life at the Nutter Center against the Wright State Raiders.
This winner of this game will advance to take the victor of the Richmond/Bryant matchup on March 25.
Danny Manning's Golden Hurricane have won three of their last five games entering the CBI, with the most recent action delivering an 85-74 loss to the eventual Conference USA Champion Memphis Tigers. Tulsa doesn't do anything exceptionally well, but it is a solid team across the board. It averages 68.4 points, 36.6 rebounds and 11.9 assists per tilt. The Golden Hurricane came up short against the Tigers as they allowed them to hit on 11-of-21 from beyond the arc. Scottie Haralson paced Tulsa with 25 points and 12 boards, while Pat Swilling, Jr. scored 15 points off the bench in the setback, which snapped Tulsa's two-game winning streak.
James Woodard paces the group with 12.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per tilt while Pat Swilling, Jr's 10.8 ppg and 41.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc plays a vital role. Haralson adds 10.8 ppg, but he converts just 36.2 percent of his shots from the floor.
This is the second meeting between Tulsa and Wright State. The previous meeting came in Tulsa's home opener of the 2004-05 season when the Hurricane hosted the Raiders in the preseason NIT. Wright State captured a 72-66 win to take the initial series lead.
Wright State was picked to finish last in the Horizon League preseason polls, but Billy Donlon's squad used the predictions as motivation to make it all the way to the tournament championship game with a 21-11 overall record, which included a solid 10-6 mark in-conference, good enough for the third-seed in the event. Wright State punched its ticket to the finals with an upset win over the defending champion Detroit Titans before falling, 62-54, to Valparaiso.
Reggie Arceneaux was the only WSU player in double figures with 14 points against Valpo. A championship run was very unexpected for the Raiders who were even bigger underdogs without their leading scorer Cole Darling, who is still questionable due to a foot injury.
Without Darling, the Raiders shot only 38.9 percent from the floor and 3-of-11 from 3-point range against Valpo. Wright State did a tremendous job defensively as it held the Crusaders' star players Ryan Broekhoff and Kevin Van Wijk to a combined total of 17 points, but Erik Buggs torched the Raiders for 22 points. WSU lost despite forcing 25 turnovers.
Wright State's return home should help it regain its footing. Tulsa has the firepower to take down the Raiders, whose success may depend on whether or not Darling returns to action.
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