NEW ORLEANS — Tulane wasn’t content with just playing in its first postseason tournament game in 13 years. The Green Wave men’s basketball team made sure it won one for the first time in 17 seasons — convincingly.
Leading for all but the first 64 seconds, Tulane (20-14) cruised past South Alabama (17-13) in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com tournament. First-team All-Conference USA forward Josh Davis finished one point shy of his
career high with 26 points, Tulane forced 10 first-half turnovers and the Green Wave won 84-73 on Wednesday night at Devlin Fieldhouse.
Tulane’s opponent in the
second round and the date had not been determined, but a school official confirmed the game would be on the road later this week. The CIT does not have a bracket, setting up matchups after the completion of each round.
Davis took over early, banking in a hook shot, converting a 3-point play and scoring inside during the first three minutes. His biggest basket in the first half came when he drove across the lane, drew Augustine Rubit’s second foul and completed another three-point play to make the score 28-20 with 8:31 left.
Rubit, the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, sat out the remainder of the half, allowing Tulane to keep a comfortable margin.
Rubit woke up in the second half, scoring 22 of his game-high 28 points, but Davis would not let the Jaguars catch up.
With Tulane leading 54-50, Rubit grabbed a rebound and went coast to coast for a basket, then banked in a short shot the next time down the court on another drive to give the Green Wave an eight-point cushion. He scored his final basket on a putback with 5:38 left, making the score 67-58.
Tulane led by at least seven the rest of the way, going ahead 76-60 on a 3-point shot from freshman Kajon Mack.
“I just played as hard as I could,” Davis said. “He (Rubit) is a very good player. I was
aggressive with my skills and my height to handle the ball. This is real exciting for the Tulane program.”
It was a feel-good night for the Green Wave, which lost its last four regular-season games –most in heartbreaking fashion--before getting bounced from the Conference USA Tournament by Memphis in the quarterfinals. Seniors Kendall Timmons and Jordan Callahan thought their final home game had been a loss when Houston scored in the final seconds to beat Tulane on Senior Night.
“Coach (Ed Conroy) just told us in the locker room he was glad that he was able to get me and Jordan off the court how we were supposed to on Senior Night,” Timmons said. “It was a great feeling tonight. Things happened that should have happened on Senior Night, but I’m glad they happened before I got out of here.”
Callahan, whose 77-pointers entering the game tied a Tulane single-season record set by Michael Christian in 1989-90, broke the mark on his first shot, a 3 that gave the Green Wave a 12-4 lead with 16:47 left. Callahan already held the career record.
Sophomore Ricky Tarrant went past the 1,000-point mark for his career with a 3-point play early in the second half. At the end of the first half, he took an inbounds pass with four seconds left, raced down the court and sank a running 3-pointer at the buzzer, taking off from behind the 3-point line and landing inside the free-throw line.
Officials reviewed the play for four minutes before determining it was a 3.
Driving to the basket repeatedly, Tulane had a chance to complete seven 3-point plays, making the free throw on the first four and missing the last three. The Green Wave, which hits more free throws than its opponents attempts, sank 27 of 37 foul shots.
Tarrant and Timmons each had 13 points for Tulane.
Mychal Ammons scored 11 points for South Alabama, which hit five of its first 10 3s but only 1 of 11 after that.
Tulane’s 20 victories is its most since 1999-2000, when it finished 20-11 and reached the NIT.
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