A Closer Look at the Tulsa 66ers' 12-Game Win Streak

TULSA, Okla. – It was after a 12-point home loss to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants on Dec. 17 when Tulsa 66ers Head Coach Nate Tibbetts gathered his team for a talk.

“Guys hadn’t figured out their roles and guys hadn’t figured out what we were trying to do,” he recalled. “We’ve got so many guys that can play, that each one of them has to sacrifice time, points and rebounds.”

Tibbetts and his staff challenged the 66ers to play as a unit. Up until that point, they seldom had done so. Almost instantly, the 66ers settled into a groove and have remained in one ever since.

Winners of 12 consecutive games, the 66ers (20-6) are tied for the third-longest win streak in D-League history as they head into Thursday’s game at the Springfield Armor.

The 66ers have overcome adversity and thrived on the defensive end during this stretch. After having two of their top players in Zabian Dowdell and Larry Owens receive NBA call-ups, the 66ers haven’t skipped a beat. They’ve won eight in a row away from home, have allowed opponents to eclipse 100 points in just three games and have kept all but one opponent to under 50 percent shooting from the field during the streak.

“Defensively is where we’ve given ourselves opportunities every night,” Tibbetts said.

Tibbetts and his staff have not addressed the players about maintaining the win streak, instead focusing on doing things the right way on a daily basis. Even on days like Tuesday, when the team had only eight players healthy to practice, Tibbetts has gotten the most out of them Tibbetts said they’re a prideful group that is clearly enjoying what is has going on right now.

“The fun thing is we’re playing real well,” said center Cole Aldrich, who is on assignment from the Thunder. “We’re having a lot of fun. You can see in practice, all the guys like each other. So it makes it a lot easier.”

Depth has been a strength for the 66ers, something Tibbetts credited to Thunder Executive Vice President/General Manager Sam Presti, Director of Minor League Operations and Basketball Technology Paul Rivers and Director of Minor League Scouting and Manager of Minor League Operations Brandon Barnett for putting together a roster of players who can compete at a high level.

No player on the 66ers active roster is averaging more than 28 minutes per game while six players are averaging at least 10 points per game. There were seven players who scored in double figures in Saturday’s 112-96 win over the Texas Legends.

“We haven’t had a lot of change,” Tibbetts said. “I think that’s one of the reasons why we’ve been successful, is because we’ve had some carryover throughout the whole year. We’ve had some injuries and some call ups but the guys who have been here all year have been playing.”

Guard Garrett Williamson, the team’s most recent addition, has blended in nicely. When he joined the 66ers on Jan. 20, he had only a shoot-around to acclimate himself with his new teammates before contributing eight points and two assists in 16 minutes off the bench of Tulsa’s 112-107 win over the Reno Bighorns.

The 66ers are 16-3 when its bench outscores the opposing bench, which further speaks to the depth on the team and the fact that there hasn’t been one player in particular who has stood out over the other during this 12-game win streak.

“We’ve had one guy step up for a game or two and then another guy steps up and it’s a good option for a coach just because you have so many guys who are playing at a high level," Tibbetts said. "We don’t have one or two guys. We’ve got a lot of guys who can contribute and we need to continue with that, I think, for us to have success.”

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