Balanced Tulsa dooms Western Michigan

Tulsa used a balanced offensive attack, with six players scoring between 17 and nine points, to defeat Western Michigan 81-74 Thursday night in the final game of the opening round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off at Myrtle Beach.

Three days after Tulsa senior forward Junior Etou set a career-high with 30 points against Oral Roberts, the Hurricane spread the wealth by having 10 of their 11 players put points on the scoreboard. With 11 minutes left in the game, Tulsa still did not have a player in double figures, yet held a comfortable 56-40 lead.

“Junior had 30 the other night, but we have other guys who can score. That’s what you saw tonight,” Tulsa coach Frank Haith said. “When people focus on him, he’s willing to share the ball, and we have some other guys who can put the ball in the hole.”

Etou still scored 15 points in the game, but Curran Scott led the way with 17, and four other players had at least nine points each.

“That helps me a lot. It takes a lot of pressure off me,” Etou said. “I was being doubled a lot and I didn’t want to force anything. So I wanted to find an open teammate and move the ball.”

That ability to move the ball so well enabled the Hurricane (2-1) to jump out to a 27-9 lead, much to the disgust of the Broncos (1-2). Western Michigan junior forward Josh Davis said the team started the game “soft,” a description that WMU coach Steve Hawkins did not dispute.

“We took the floor passive,” Hawkins said. “That’s not our personality to do that. That was the disappointing part of the game. We just didn’t take anything away. We trailed a lot of stuff. We were always playing behind defensively. Our ball screen defense was atrocious. It was just an abysmal effort on our part at the beginning.”