TULSA, OKLA. Tulsa University has one of the tiniest major-college basketball backcourts in the country. The 17th-ranked Golden Hurricane also have one of the best in Dante Swanson and Antonio Reed, both 5-foot-10.
Swanson is averaging 16.0 points per game and Reed 9.2 heading into tonight's clash with No. 20 Kansas University.
"Are they that much better than any other guard combination in a quality program? Probably not," second-year Tulsa coach John Phillips said. "They are both characters. Reporters get around them and like them and try to pub 'em up."
Tipoff will be at 7 p.m. at the Reynolds Center on the TU campus. The game will be televised live on the KU Network (channels 13 and 38).
Reed has been slowed recently by an ankle sprain so Jarius Glenn, a 6-6 sophomore guard/forward from Decatur, Ga., is ready to step in if needed, Phillips said.
Swanson hails from nearby Wagoner, Okla., while Reed is from Tulsa.
"They are both very good players," Phillips said. "It just so happens we recruited them thinking they could both play at the same time. It worked out well for us. They have tremendous competitive desire and have helped us win a bunch of ballgames in three years."
The duo helped Tulsa to a 27-7 record a year ago, Phillips' first season after being promoted from assistant to head coach. One of the seven losses was a 93-85 setback to KU last December in Kansas City's Kemper Arena. Swanson and Reed each scored 23 points in that game.
"They are a very experienced team with Reed and Swanson and Parker in the backcourt and Johnson may be as good a player in their league (Western Athletic Conference)," KU coach Roy Williams said. "They have been successful and know how to win."
Jason Parker, a 6-2 junior from Tulsa, averages a team-leading 17.5 points a game, while Kevin Johnson, a 6-8 senior forward from Missouri City, Texas, contributes 17 points a contest.
"We do have very good guards," Phillips said, "but I like all our players. We are pretty balanced. Actually, our team defense is keyed on everybody helping each other."
Phillips' first TU team beat Marquette before falling to Kentucky by five points in last year's NCAA Tournament. The year before, under Buzz Peterson, Tulsa won the NIT.
Prior to that, in Bill Self's final year, Tulsa went 32-5, losing to North Carolina in the Elite Eight.
Tonight No. 17 Tulsa surprisingly has a higher ranking than No. 20 Kansas, meaning this might not be the best time for TU to be playing KU.
"Probably not. I was hoping they'd be undefeated, to be quite honest," Phillips said. "I'd prefer they come in undefeated, fat and sassy, looking at us saying, 'Those guys aren't very good, let's go get us another one.' We know it won't be that case now. We know they are wounded and hungry."
The Jayhawks are well aware they will have to play well to defeat the Hurricane because they're 0-3 in games outside of Allen Fieldhouse.
"Tulsa is a great team," KU senior guard Kirk Hinrich said. "They have shooters, inside play and great guards. Last year, that was a tough game. We're going to be on their home court, playing somebody like that on their home court is tough."
ESPN Magazine recently quoted guards Reed and Swanson saying the Hurricane had enough talent to win it all this season.
|When: 7 tonight.Where: Reynolds Center in Tulsa, Okla.Television: Channels 13 and 38.Records: No. 20 Kansas (3-3); No. 17 Tulsa (4-0).|
"Forget the Final Four," Reed said. "We'll accept nothing less than first place."
Williams and the KU players read that piece in the national magazine.
"They've been looking forward to this game a long time," Williams noted. "They said in ESPN Magazine they can't wait to get Kansas in Tulsa. They don't get that many top 25, top 40 teams to come in and play them at their place."
If KU hopes to make something big out of its season, a victory tonight might be pivotal.
"We have to go out there and play our game," KU junior Bryant Nash said. "We know we can win games. If we go down there and beat Tulsa, that's one win compared to all the other games we still have to play. We have to go out and play those games just as tough."
KU will return home to meet Emporia State at 7 p.m. Saturday.