Charlotte lost its first Conference USA game of the season Saturday against Texas-San Antonio, due in large part to the Roadrunners’ ability to punish the visiting 49ers’ carelessness with the ball.
The 49ers (10-5, 1-1 C-USA) will want to correct that quickly, with opportunistic Tulsa (7-9, 2-0) coming to Halton Arena on Thursday.
The Golden Hurricane opened its league season last week with a 97-71 victory against Tulane, during which it efficiently scored 22 points off 11 Green Wave turnovers.
“They’re an up-tempo team,” 49ers coach Alan Major said of Tulsa. “They’re really good in the open court. They converted – like that – and the game was almost over at halftime.”
That was the script in San Antonio on Saturday, when UTSA scored 15 points off 12 49ers turnovers in the first half as the Roadrunners jumped to a 10-point halftime lead and went on to a 85-77 victory.
“What dictated the first half was UTSA getting their confidence from their defense,” Major said. “They could convert and score off (the turnovers). And that’s the toughest thing for your team, racing back and trying to prevent that.”
First-year Golden Hurricane coach Danny Manning is a former Greensboro Page High star who spurned North Carolina to play for Kansas. He led the Jayhawks to the 1988 national title and was an assistant at Kansas for six years before going to Tulsa.
Tulsa is deep, with 10 players who play at least 10 minutes per game. Forward Rashad Smith, the Golden Hurricane’s second-leading scorer (12.4 points per game) has missed the last two games after colliding with a teammate in practice last week. Major said he expects Smith to play Thursday.
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