TULSA, Okla. –– On a day that one of the greatest scorers in Tulsa history, Bobby "Bingo" Smith, had his jersey #32 retired, Martins Igbanu had a scoring exhibition of his own. The senior scored a game-high 23 points in leading Tulsa (18-9, 10-4 AAC) to a 79-57 win over SMU (18-8, 8-6 AAC) in front of 4,690 fans on Legends Day Saturday afternoon at the Donald W. Reynolds Center.
Igbanu continues to stake a claim to the American Athletic Conference's post-season 6th Man of the Year award as he converted 9-of-13 field goals and 5-of-5 free throws en route to his fifth 20+ scoring game in the last 8 contests. He missed his third double-double of the season by pulling down a game-high 9 rebounds.
Lawson Korita added 14 points, while Darien Jackson scored 12 in the 22-point victory. Led by Igbanu, the Tulsa bench outscored SMU 30-8, had a 13-2 edge in fast-break points, 26-8 advantage off turnovers and 34-20 edge for points in the paint.
Tyson Jolly led SMU with 18 points, followed by 13 from Isiaha Mike and 10 from Kendric Davis.
Tulsa shot 49 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3-point range, while holding SMU to 38.9 percent overall and 27-percent from behind the arc. Tulsa tied a season-low 9 turnovers, while forcing the Mustangs into 16 turnovers.
Coupled with a Houston loss at Memphis earlier in the day, that puts Tulsa, the Cougars and Cincinnati each sitting atop The American with 4 league losses. Houston has an 11-4 mark, while Tulsa and Cincinnati are 10-4.
"I thought it was a great performance by our guys. I thought our guys played extremely well on both ends of the court. I thought we executed extremely well offensively. We didn't turn the ball over. We played inside-out, which is important for us to have success," said Tulsa Head Coach Frank Haith, "Defensively, I thought we were really terrific. We were dialed in. We gave up some 3s. Isiaha (Mike)) made some 3s there in the first half where I thought we needed to get there a second quicker, but for the most part we did a good job of protecting the paint and limiting these guys to one shot."
The Hurricane took a 7-point halftime lead and led by as many as 23 points in the second half.
Tulsa jumped out to a 10-point lead, 39-29, in the first 2 minutes of the second half. The Mustangs cut its deficit to 5 points, 47-42, with 12:41 on the clock, but that's as close as SMU would get the rest of the way. With Tulsa leading 56-46, SMU's Mike was called for a personal and technical foul at the 8:59 mark. From that point, the Hurricane scored the next 9 points in only 0:53 seconds to take a 65-46 lead for a 19-point advantage at the 8:06 mark.
Tulsa's defense didn't allow the Mustangs to get any closer 17 points in the final 6 minutes of the contest.
Tulsa took a 3-0 lead in the first minute of the game, but the Mustangs scored the next 4 points for SMU's only lead of the first half at the 18-minute mark. The Hurricane retook the lead, 6-4, on a Darien Jackson's 3-pointer at the 17:35 mark and held the lead for the remainder of the contest.
Tulsa's largest margin in the first half was 8 points. Elijah Joiner's layup at the 4:54 mark gave Tulsa its first 8-point lead at 24-16. After SMU sliced that lead to 2 points, 24-22, at the 3:31 mark, the Hurricane went on an 8-2 run for another 8-point advantage with 0:41 remaining.
The Hurricane went into the intermission with a 7-point lead at 33-26.
Igbanu ended the first 20 minutes with a game-high 15 points on 7-of-10 from the field, and added 6 rebounds. SMU's Mike had 12 points to lead the Mustangs' first-half scoring.
Tulsa closes out the home season with two games this coming week at the Reynolds Center. Tulane visits on Tuesday night for an 8:00 p.m. tip-off, while next Saturday UCF comes to town for a 5:00 p.m. matchup.
The Hurricane will take to the road for the final two regular season games at Temple (Mar. 4) and at Wichita State (Mar. 8).