NEW ORLEANS — It may be the newly exposed wooden roof or even just the comfort of the logo in the middle of the court, but there’s no doubt Tulane plays better at home.
The dichotomous Green Wave (8-3) extended its perfect record in Devlin Fieldhouse to 8-0, beating Texas-Pan American 76-49 on Wednesday in the opening night of the Tulane Classic. The win ended an 11-day layoff, following Tulane’s 78-72 road loss to San Diego, the Wave’s 12th consecutive road defeat dating back to last season.
“It was great feeling to be back, because we had like 10 practices in a row,” point guard Ricky Tarrant said. “So it was great to get back into here and get a win tonight.”
However, getting back on its home floor didn’t prove to be an immediate salve, as Tulane labored in the first half, allowing the physically overmatched Broncs (4-7) to stay within six points at halftime. Tulane shot just 37 percent from the floor.
Then the Green Wave found Josh Davis.
Tulane’s junior forward dominated the second half, scoring 19 of his game-high 23 points in the period as the Wave opened up a commanding lead almost immediately. Davis took advantage of his 6-foot-8 frame (taller than any member of UTPA’s frontcourt) and quick first step to continuously pound the Broncs in the post.
Davis efficiently picked apart UTPA, converting all nine of his second half shot attempts as the Green Wave’s lead swelled to 27 by the game’s final minute.
“It’s a great feeling because (Davis) gets it on offensive rebounds, attacking from the wings, he’s just real confident,” Tarrant said. “When we need a bucket we know we can trust him to put the ball in the hole.”
His inside tenacity also opened up shooting opportunities across the court. Tulane shot a blistering 67 percent in the second half, knocking down three-of-six 3-pointers in the second half, after opening just 2-of-9 from beyond the arc.
Beyond Davis’ dominance, Tulane coach Ed Conroy credited his bench with providing a “spark” with 25 points – paced by freshman Louis Dabney’s career-high nine - and an obvious increase in defensive energy.
Tulane’s defense bogged down the Broncs, as it connected on just 9-of-27 shots in the second half, limiting them to just eight points in the paint and five free throw attempts over the span.
Tulane has a quick turnaround before getting back on the floor, concluding the Tulane Classic tonight at 7 p.m. when it faces Pepperdine at 7 p.m.
“It feels like a tournament and you never know who is going to get hot in a tournament,” Conroy said. “We didn’t have anybody play over 30 minutes tonight so we should be fresh, but it will be important to be ready to go at the tip against Pepperdine.”