Conference USA got the one versus two seed match up that most conferences cross their fingers for when Louisiana Tech and Tulsa. The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs blew out Charlotte and Southern Miss on their march to the conference championship, meanwhile Tulsa took down Tulane and had a close battle with Mississippi Valley State.
These two teams only met once this year when Louisiana Tech grabbed a 66-61 win on their homecourt in early February. It looked liked it was going to be another tight game between the Bulldogs and Golden Hurricane right from the get go. Louisiana Tech grabbed a 35-34 lead at the half thanks to seven three pointers. Speedy Smith gave Tulsa the most problems early with his 9 points and 4 assists in the first half alone.
The second half was a similar back and forth affair throughout. Tulsa looked like they might grab some sort advantage with a 7-0 run that gave them a 45-42 lead at the under twelve minute media timeout. Louisiana Tech came storming back with back-to-back big time three pointers from Kenyon McNeail to give the Bulldogs back the lead 51-50 with 8:18 remaining.
Michale Kyser had to leave the floor for a good bit after his contact lens fell out. During that stretch Tulsa was able to build a 55-51 lead. That run, along with LaTech's inability to score the last eight minutes of the game, would do-in the Bulldogs.
Tulsa is now moving on to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003 with their 69-60 Conference USA Championship win. Danny Manning's team has now won 11 games in a row and have experienced quite the turn-around after starting the season 1-6. James Woodard lead the Hurricane with 27 points and 4 rebounds.
Louisiana Tech, who had an RPI of 55 coming into this game, will sweat out the next day wondering if they'll get a bid to the NCAA Tournament or if they'll be heading to the NIT. Speedy Smith finished this afternoon's game with 16 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds.