DALLAS—The Tulsa Golden Hurricane did something on Wednesday night against SMU that hadn’t happened all season to a visiting team, they beat the Mustangs at Moody Coliseum. And two Plano natives, junior transfer Pat Birt and senior Rashad Smith, started for Tulsa in that 82-77 win.
The win was especially sweet for Birt, a Plano Senior High product who finished with 17 points and five rebounds, the bulk of which came in the second half.
“Well, I was thinking about it earlier. I was at this game same time last year for the conference championship and one of my goals this year was to beat them at SMU, so it’ll always feel great,” Birt said in a postgame press conference. “But it’s just another win. It’s a good win but we got to keep it going, try to get first place.”
Birt had just five points in the first half, but erupted for 12 points in the second half, going 4-of-6 from the field, including 3-of-4 from long range. Tulsa head coach Frank Haith felt the only difference between Birt in the second half compared to the first half was simply that he made more shots.
“Obviously, it’s a great win for us and our program. So much respect for SMU and their team. I think they’re one of the best teams in the country,” Haith said.
Birt hit his third and final three-pointer of the game with 33 seconds left, putting the Golden Hurricane ahead 78-74 and delivering a crushing final blow. But he gave all the credit for the shot to his teammate who got him the ball. “[Shaquille Harrison] was driving and I just slid down almost to the corner. When I was open, he got me the ball and I shot the shot. I felt confident,” he said.
Smith had six points and five rebounds for TU in the win, but due to foul trouble, the Plano East product was limited to 17 minutes. However, being in foul trouble didn’t dampen his spirits after such a huge win, especially with plenty of friends and family in the stands at Moody, including his mother, who doesn’t make it to games in Tulsa.
“Man, that’s just something you dream about. You come home and you have somebody on your team that you’ve known for years before college,” Smith said. “SMU’s a great team, nobody realty beats them, especially here, so to come in and do that after all those years of losing to them, it feels really good.”
And even though he and Birt played on rival teams in high school, their friendship goes way back and Smith was very happy to see his good friend help TU to a big road win.
“I’ve been knowing Pat since maybe fifth grade and I’ve just watched him grow. When he committed here, I was like it’s going to be a special year,” Smith said. “I’m always pulling for Pat. That’s my brother right there from when we were little. It’s always good to see him have success.”