TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The coaches weren’t around to see all of it, but reserve Jeriah Horne scored a career high 27 points and Tulsa defeated UConn 89-83 Wednesday night, snapping a two-game conference losing streak.
Both Tulsa coach Frank Haith and UConn coach Dan Hurley were ejected with 11:40 to play in the second half and Tulsa leading 61-47. Haith protested a foul call against his forward DaQuan Jeffries and Hurley began yelling at Haith. The two exchanged words and officials assessed both two technicals before play resumed.
Both coaches said they felt the officiating crew overreacted to what Haith called “a competitive discussion.” Hurley said he wanted to let Haith know that his team hadn’t been getting the call on similar fouls to the one whistled on Jeffries. He said that it escalated to the ejections was “embarrassing for me, for the university and the conference and shouldn’t have happened.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Hurley said. “It was surreal, I would say. . . Watch what happened on TV. It’s very clear. I was talking to the official, and then I was engaged by someone on the other sideline. They said my name, in my direction, so I turned and looked (with) kind of a look of surprise.
“I’ve known Frank for a very long time – probably 15, 18, 20 years, back to when I was a high school coach and he recruited my players. I feel as though that situation escalated because of the officials and the way they handled the situation.”
Haith concurred that the ejections were not warranted and said he considered he and Hurley friends.
Jeffries finished with 14 points for Tulsa (12-6, 2-3 American), Martins Igbanu added 13 and Sterling Taplin 11.
Tulsa went on a 19-7 run over the first eight minutes of the second half, capped by a right corner 3-pointer by Taplin, to lead 61-44. UConn struggled to find its rhythm offensively against Tulsa’s matchup zone until Jalen Adams took matters in his own hands late in the game. Adams finished with 27 points for UConn (10-8, 1-4), which is winless in five trips to Tulsa. Christian Vital scored 15 and Alterique Gilbert added 13 for the Huskies.
The Huskies trimmed the 17-point deficit to six numerous times, but Tulsa made 9 of 12 free throws in the final 1:10 to preserve its lead.
Horne scored 17 first-half points, making 6-of-7 shots, including all three of his 3-pointers, to push Tulsa to a 42-37 halftime lead. The Hurricane shot 53 percent in the opening half against a team that allows just 40 percent for the season. Tulsa finished at 53.7 percent (29 of 54).
“Defensively, we did a horrible job on Horne,” Hurley said. “To allow a guy who’s a one-dimensional, catch-and-shoot player to have that many good looks — it spoke to how we weren’t locked in.”
Haith, on the other hand, was well pleased with his Nebraska transfer, who has scored in double figures the past three games and added eight rebounds and three assists to his 27-point outburst.
“Anytime you’re new to a system it takes a while to get comfortable,” Haith said. “Jeriah is really coming along and finding his rhythm.”
Tulsa took advantage of U’Conn’s switching defense to create mismatches inside, particularly with Jeffries being guarded by smaller guards and scoring easily at the rim.
UConn goes home for two games — against Tulane on Saturday and Wichita State on Jan. 26.
Tulsa is on the road for two — against UCF Saturday and Cincinnati on Jan. 24.
UCONN: The Huskies got a decided lack of production from their inside players as the three starting guards combined for 55 points and only one other player scored more than five.
TULSA: The Hurricane had several player meetings following a 77-57 blowout loss at SMU Saturday.
“We came together,” Horne said. “We had some talks as a team and we were ready for this game.”