Tulsa gains first Elite Eight trip with 80-71 win
Posted: Saturday March 25, 2000 12:50 PM
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Finally, a regional final for Tulsa.
The Golden Hurricane found its first success in the second week of the NCAA tournament Friday night, advancing past the round of 16 for the first time in school history with an 80-71 victory over Miami in the South Regional.
"You can put Cinderella on us if you want to, but our players and teams have shown through the years that they can play with anyone," coach Bill Self said.
Although Tulsa will play in the a regional final for the first time Sunday, the Golden Hurricane is no stranger to the later days of the NCAA tournament.
Tulsa (32-4) has advanced to the Sweet 16 three times since 1994 but had never advanced further. To get there this time it took a second-round victory over second-seeded Cincinnati.
Tulsa will play the North Carolina-Tennessee winner for a spot in the Final Four.
Thanks to a group effort by Tulsa.
Brandon Kurtz, at 6-foot-10 the only Tulsa player who could match up with Miami's size, scored all of his 17 points in the second half and provided the key steal and dunk that snuffed Miami's only lead with about 10 minutes left to play.
Eric Coley also scored 17 points for Tulsa and Greg Harrington had 14, Marcus Hill 13 and Tony Heard 11.
"I have high expectations for myself," Kurtz said. "We spread the floor, opened it up and my teammates found me."
Miami (23-11) had never made it this far in its three previous tournament appearances and was noticeably nervous in the opening minutes.
Johnny Hemsley, who averaged 22 points in Miami's two tournament victories, slammed the ball at midcourt before pregame introductions, sending it high into the air.
His teammates were just as tight as the Hurricanes turned it over 13 times in the first half as Tulsa built a 25-8 lead.
Despite giving up the size, Tulsa outrebounded Miami 41-37 and gave the Hurricanes no second chance points in the first half. Tulsa had won 25 games this season by double-figure margins and appeared on the verge of another rout.
"I haven't seen a group of guys play together as they do," Miami's Vernon Jennings said. "They just didn't let us get into doing what we wanted to do."
Miami recovered in time to close the gap to 31-25 at halftime on Hemsley's 3-pointer.
The Hurricanes hit 10-of-17 from the 3-point line and Jennings' 3-pointer give Miami its first -- and only -- lead at 46-43 with 10-35 to play.
It lasted all of 45 seconds. Tulsa answered with Hill's jumper, and Kurtz intercepted Jennings' pass and finished a fast break with a dunk to retake the lead at 47-46.
Kurtz scored six more as Tulsa built the lead to 61-50 on Heard's two free throws with 5:21 to play. Miami never again cut it below eight.
"I thought we were a step slower tonight and you can't have that against a team like Tulsa," Miami coach Leonard Hamilton said. "They are probably the fastest team we faced all year ... I think our team was worn out."
Hamilton, who hired Self as an assistant at Oklahoma State in the late 1980s, hugged his former protege at midcourt when the game ended. Miami finished one victory short of a school record.
"I'm very proud of what these guys accomplished this year," Hamilton said.
Jennings and Mario Bland led Miami with 17 points each. Hemsley
had 13 on 4-of-10 shooting before fouling out in the final minute.