Twenty years ago, Ed O’Bannon’s geography skills had an unfortunate lapse after he learned UCLA would play Tulsa in the NCAA tournament’s first round.
“To tell you the truth,” O’Bannon said at the time, “I didn’t even know Tulsa was in Oklahoma.”
Tulsa went on to end UCLA’s tournament early in 1994, history that won’t be far away when the schools meet Friday in San Diego to start the NCAA tournament.
After beating Louisiana Tech to win the Conference USA tournament, Tulsa’s first NCAA appearance since 2003 is the latest twist in an unpredictable season. Tulsa started with nine losses in 13 games but is 17-3 since then. That includes winning its last 11 games.
Coach Danny Manning attributed the turnaround to gritty, game-long defensive effort.
“That’s the key to our success,” Manning said after Saturday’s championship victory.
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