There was no animosity between Tulsa senior guard Corey Henderson Jr. and the team he used to play for, Wichita State, as the two programs renewed their conference rivalry in WSU’s 72-69 victory at the Reynolds Center on Saturday night.
Henderson signed with WSU in 2014 and appeared in 28 games during his freshman season, averaging 1.9 points. He decided to transfer after the 2014-15 season, playing a season at Blinn College before ending up at Tulsa.
Henderson said he left the program on good terms and feels like the split was mutually beneficial — WSU has had much success since his departure, while Henderson has carved out a successful career as a starting guard at Tulsa. That was on his mind rather than revenge during Saturday’s game.
“It was just fun to play in that type of environment,” Henderson said. “Not a lot of people get to do that. If we got out there and compete like that every game, we’ll be good. They’re the No. 5 team in the country for a reason, so I thought we showed we can played with the best of them.”
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Henderson even had a chance to deliver a dagger against his former team — his potential go-ahead three-pointer swirled around the rim and fell out with 11 seconds remaining. He said after the game that it looked and felt the same as the three-pointer he released to beat Connecticut in double overtime, 90-88, earlier this month.
Instead, this one fell out and WSU (15-2) held on to improve to 5-0 in the American Athletic Conference and Tulsa (10-8, 3-3) lost its third straight conference game.
“I thought it was in, I really did,” Henderson said. “It just rolled in and out. I was upset, but it’s whatever.”
Now a senior, Henderson is averaging 8.6 points and had one of his better games of the season against WSU with 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting.
“They’re a great team, so we just tried to stay together and not get down,” Henderson said. “We had to just focus on the next play and get after it.”
Seniors Shaquille Morris, Zach Brown, Rauno Nurger, and Rashard Kelly all played with Henderson in his season at WSU and Henderson said he occasionally talks with Brown and Kelly, who were his roommates in Wichita.
They greeted each other before the game, but nothing more on game day.
“I’m still cool with those guys,” Henderson said.
Henderson was disappointed with the loss, but proud of his team’s effort to take WSU down to the final shot.