Brandon Rachal pocketed two free throws with 0.1 seconds remaining, and hosts Tulsa Golden Hurricane knocked out fifth-placed Houston Cougars 65-64 in an American Athletic Conference matchup on Tuesday.
Rachal hit a season high of 22 points with eight rebounds and finished 8 of 8 from the free throw line as Tulsa (5-3, 2-1 AAC) made a top-five team for the first time since beating the No. 5 UCLA defeated on November 20, 1996.
Caleb Mills sank a baseline jumper to give Houston (7-1, 2-1) the lead by 6.3 seconds. But Rachal attacked the basket in subsequent possession and pulled a foul on Cougars center Brison Gresham, which messed up the game.
Rachal paced up and down on points and rebounds and was the only Tulsa player to get double-digit results. While Tulsa finished 18 out of 22 on the line, Houston missed 11 out of 31.
Quentin Grimes led Houston with 19 points and seven boards, while Marcus Sasser got 14 points and Mills 11 points. The Cougars only shot 4 out of 21 points in 3-point attempts.
Tulsa led by up to six points in the second half, but its offensive fights allowed the Cougars to stick together. Houston went without a field goal for more than three minutes until Sasser converted a second chance basket that knotted the game by 50 seconds at 62-62.
Tulsa survived the first volley in Houston, an 8-0 rally with a three-point game from DeJon Jarreau, as the Cougars took an early 15-4 lead.
The Hurricane responded with an 11-0 lightning bolt, detonated by a Rachal-Trey at the 13:10 mark of the first half and capped by the second of three 3-pointers of the first half by Curtis Haywood II, all nine his points previously scored at break.
But the Hurricane, which took the lead 4:50 with no field goal during the Cougars run, slumped again with a 4:14 drought that Haywood snapped with a 3-pointer at 4:34.
Emboldened, the hurricane held out the Cougars’ tough defenses for the remainder of the half, eventually taking the lead at 27-26 with 1:59 on a Darien Jackson 3-pointer.
Tulsa took a 31-30 lead at break when Elijah Joiner hit the buzzer with a layup that appeared to hit every part of the rim.
The Hurricane finished half-time converting three consecutive field goals while Houston, missing 10 of 11 Treys, scored 1 of 7 on the track.
Tulsa has never before beat a team that finished 5th during a game at the Reynolds Center. The Golden Hurricane’s best win to date at this stadium was a 77-67 decision over the No. 9 Wichita State on November 17, 2015.
– Field level media