DECEMBER 29, 2017
As noted in our Tulane Basketball Primer a couple days ago, the Wave's non-conference start had already elevated expectations for this team -- but we thought they could threaten some of the league's better teams this season.
In their AAC opener in Philadelphia last night, Tulane MBB did just that, knocking off the Temple Owls 85-75.
Green Wave fans were energized by this upset, with Temple entering the game as a 10-point home favorite.
There was good reason for that, as the Owls had already knocked off the likes of Auburn, Clemson, South Carolina, and Wisconsin this year. In fact, Joe Lunardi of ESPN had the Owls inside the bubble prior to last night.
The stage was set -- in the other corner, the Wave had something to prove after effectively handling most of its non-conference slate with notable exceptions against North Carolina and Florida State. A quality win would validate many of the positives we have seen this year, and they certainly got it in Philadelphia.
Since being held to 3 points in Tampa Bay against Florida State, Melvin Frazier has returned to form. He's posted performances of 5 for 9 against Nicholls (12 points), 5 for 6 against South Alabama (18 points), and finally 9 for 13 against Temple (25 points) in his last three outings.
Louisiana's Player of the Month for November looked dominant last night. A key moment came with 6:46 remaining, as the Owls had closed within 4 points of the Wave. Frazier responded with a momentum killing 3-pointer.
The tandem was complete with another stellar night from Cameron Reynolds, as the Pearland, TX native posted his second double-double of the year (17 points, 10 rebounds).
Also notable, Caleb Daniels -- a true freshman out of St. Aug -- played a valuable role in his 25 minutes going for 8 points and 3 for 4 from the field. That included making a pair of crucial free throws late in the game:
Caleb Daniels -- true frosh out of St. Aug -- hits both his free throws to make it 69-60 Tulane.— Fear the Wave (@FearTheWaveBlog) December 29, 2017
He's coming into his own as we hit league play. Great to see.
Overall, the team's focus at the charity stripe paid off with a 19 for 20 performance that helped keep the game out of reach. The Owls never came closer than 4 points in the second half.
This was an imporant one. It snapped a six game losing streak against Temple and brought the Wave its first victory against the Owls since 1996.
It's still early, but Temple entered as #13 in RPI, and Tulane rose to a virtually unheard of (in post-Clark) #67 in the country:
If nothing else, the improvement of this young team has caught the attention of a lot of folks who expected little after a 6-win campaign in 2016-2017:
I’ve questioned the Mike Dunleavy hire a lot in the past, but Tulane is one of the most-improved teams in the country. Young team with just 1 senior has already eclipsed last year’s win total and went on the road to beat Temple last night. Fun club to watch right now.— Kevin Sweeney (@CBB_Central) December 29, 2017
Tulane will pick back up at 2 PM on Sunday in Devlin against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.
Time to buy in as Tulane looks for a 2-0 start in league play.