TULSA — On a team with three talented but green freshmen guards, getting junior transfer Pat Swilling Jr. on the court has been a blessing for first-year coach Danny Manning and his extremely young Tulsa team.
Swilling missed the first seven games with a fractured wrist, but returned well ahead of schedule. On Saturday, he was involved in three crucial plays in the final seconds and his free throw with 3.2 seconds left proved the difference in a 50-49 victory over TCU.
Swilling nearly tossed the game away trying to make a downcourt pass with eight seconds left. TCU’s Kyan Anderson stole the ball and missed a layup, Swilling got the rebound and was fouled by Adrick McKinney. He made the first of two free throws and teammate Scottie Haralson grabbed the rebound on the second to preserve the win for the Golden Hurricane (6-3).
The son of former NFL linebacker Pat Swilling made his Tulsa debut Wednesday with 11 points in a victory over Missouri State. He had six points, three rebounds, four assists and a steal and helped steady the young guards against TCU (6-4), which ranks third in the nation in fewest points allowed at 52.8.
“We don’t win either of these last two games without Pat Swilling,” Manning said. “He’s a seasoned veteran.”
Swilling played a year at St. Joseph’s and a year at College of Southern Idaho before transferring to Tulsa.
“I was just glad to get the rebound and glad he fouled me,” Swilling said. “I was a little nervous going to the line. On the other hand, I’ve been in situations like that before.”
“It was one of those games where the ball bounced our way at the end and we got a win,” Manning said. “I’m sure TCU is thinking of a lot of things it could have done at the end to make the outcome different.”
D’Andre Wright matched a season-high with 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Tulsa in both categories. Kauri Black and Shaq Harrison added nine points each.
Green scored 16 and Connell Crossland 10 for TCU, which was outrebounded 33-27.
“This was a basketball game we had the opportunity to win,” said TCU coach Trent Johnson. “I can’t blame our effort. I can’t blame the shots we were getting.”
TCU shot 38.3 percent from the field and just 52.6 percent (10 of 19) on free throws. Tulsa used a box-and-one defense to limit Anderson to eight points. He entered the game with a 13.9-point average.
“We really wanted to make Kyan work hard and limit his opportunities,” Manning said.
Tulsa shot 57.1 percent in grabbing a 30-25 lead at the break. TCU kept it close by forcing 12 turnovers and holding leading scorer James Woodard scoreless on his way to a season-low 2 points. Tulsa finished shooting 46.3 percent but had a season-high 23 turnovers.
“TCU plays great defense, but there’s no way we can continue to win making that many turnovers,” Manning said.
TCU went on a 13-3 run to start the second half, holding Tulsa scoreless until a 3-pointer by Haralson with 14:13 remaining. Neither team led by more than three points in the final 10 minutes of a game with 14 lead changes.
Rashad Ray knifed through the TCU defense for a layup to give Tulsa a 48-46 lead with 1:30 left, Green nailed a 3-pointer to put TCU back on top 49-48 at 1:02. Wright tied the game by making one of two free throws with 40 seconds left.