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The Life

December 5, 2002
Small Killing
ESPN The Magazine

When Antonio Reed rolls his green Suburban through the Tulsa campus, his best friend and cousin, Dante Swanson, always rides shotgun. So what if they practically need phone books to see over the dash? The 5'10" guard tandem is livin' large -- and has Tulsa thinkin' large.

Reed and Swanson, along with three other seniors, have guided the Golden Hurricane to an Elite Eight, NIT title and NCAA second-round berth the past three years, not to mention 85 wins, second only to Duke. Now the pair say their team's good enough to win it all. And they plan on proving it when Kansas visits the Reynolds Center Dec.11. "Forget the Final Four," Reed says. "We'll accept nothing less than first place."

Dante Swanson
Dante Swanson is a key to Tulsa's success.

Until Antonio buzzed his cornrows over the summer, fans often mixed up the two players. That's understandable: same bloodline, same insane court speed, nearly the same scoring average (11.6 ppg for Swanson, 11.1 for Reed). "Their quickness" says SMU coach Mike Dement, "creates more problems than size can."

But the two couldn't be more different. Reed, the point man, is a local hoops legend, having balled in high school with NBA first-rounders Etan Thomas and Ryan Humphrey before choosing Tulsa. Now he sets up senior big man Kevin Johnson (14.5 ppg) and stuffs the stat sheet (4.1 apg, 3 rpg, 1.6 spg). He's a fan fave, too, with his infectious smile, eye-popping antics (he dribbled through a Boise State player's legs last season) and frequent drop-by's to community centers. "He could be mayor of Tulsa some day," says Hurricane coach John Phillips.

Swanson's more the silent-but-deadly type. Only Tulsa, Oral Roberts and Southwest Texas looked closely at the shooting guard out of tiny Wagoner, Okla. (pop. 7,669). Three years later, he still relishes his low profile off the court -- but his game speaks volumes. He led the nation in three-point accuracy (49%) last season and emerged as a defensive stopper. Dante may be undersized, but his 305-pound bench makes him awfully tough to post.

Both guards thrive in transition -- they've spun through three coaches in three years. They prefer the chill Phillips to the "high blood pressure" Bill Self (now at Illinois) and Buzz Peterson (Tennessee). "I used to be afraid to shoot," Swanson says. "But Coach put us in a nice comfort zone."

Now the cousins are aiming to put Tulsa in a zone of its own. So what if they'll need a boost to climb up the winners' podium?

This article appears in the December 9 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

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