Tulane (15-11) at S-M-U (11-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 22nd, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Moody Coliseum (8,998) -- Dallas, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: Tulane 12-3, SMU 7-6. Away Record: Tulane 2-8, SMU 3-7. Neutral Record: Tulane 1-0, SMU 1-3. Conference Record: Tulane 3-9, SMU 2-10. Series Record: SMU leads, 13-12.
GAME NOTES: A pair of Conference USA members continue to fight for positioning Wednesday as the Tulane Green Wave take to the road for a matchup with the SMU Mustangs at Moody Coliseum.
Tulane had its late-season slide extended to three games Saturday with an 81-73 loss at UAB. The Green Wave trailed by as much as 17 in the second half but freshman Ricky Tarrant orchestrated a comeback and nearly carried the visitors to victory by himself. Tarrant had the Wave within three with 39 seconds remaining after pouring in 29 second-half points, but the Blazers were able to seal the outcome at the foul line. UAB sank 24-of-27 at the stripe in the second half alone while Tarrant had half of Tulane's 20 free throws (20- for-25) overall. Tarrant finished with 33 points, tying a career high, while Josh Davis recorded a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds as TU slipped to 3-9 in conference play.
SMU continued its recent misery with a third consecutive defeat and eighth in nine games overall, dropping a 73-68 decision to Marshall at home. The Mustangs had just 14 points at the break and were down 20 in the second half before a late rally fell short. SMU poured in 54 second-half points on 62.1 percent shooting but it wasn't enough to overcome a horrendous first 20 minutes (27.3 percent shooting.). London Giles returned from a one-game absence to lead the Mustangs with 17 points while Jalen Jones netted 15. SMU has lost eight consecutive conference games en route to the C-USA basement at 2-10.
Tulane wrangled the Mustangs for an 80-74 victory January 25 at home after splitting the season series a year ago. SMU owns a 13-12 edge in the all-time series and defeated the Green Wave, 66-61, in Dallas last year.
The Green Wave have to be encouraged by the play of the inexperienced but rising Tarrant, who is now averaging 15.3 points per game. Tarrant was seemingly handed the keys to the offense once leading scorer junior Kendall Timmons had surgery last month and has responded well, adding 3.9 rebounds and a team-high 49 three-pointers on 39.8 percent shooting. Junior Jordan Callahan and the sophomore Davis are helping to pitch in as well, the former posting 12.2 ppg and the latter a solid 10.8 ppg. Callahan also contributes from long distance with 48 triples on 36.9 percent shooting. Davis serves as Tulane's leading rebounder at 9.3 per contest. Overall, the Green Wave have mediocre offensive numbers with 66.0 ppg on just 43.2 percent shooting but often rise above thanks to a stellar defense. Tulane stifles the opposition to the tune of a league-low 59.7 ppg and a 40.4 shooting percentage, giving it C-USA's third-best scoring margin at plus-6.3.
The Mustangs are paced by the likes of Robert Nyakundi first and foremost. The senior leads the club in a host of categories including scoring (14.8 ppg), rebounding (4.8 rpg) and three-pointers with 65 on 41.7 percent shooting. His overall shooting percentage of 47.5 is second on the team, though he was a putrid 3-for-14 shooting in the loss to Marshall. Giles checks in at 10.7 ppg and also connects on a healthy number of triples with 45 on 37.5 percent shooting. Jones adds 8.4 ppg to the mix while Jeremiah Samarrippas kicks in 6.8 ppg and dishes a team-leading 4.0 assists per contest. The offense on a whole produces a league-low 59.7 ppg and shoots 42.1 percent from the field but the Mustang defense usually gives those numbers a chance to stand up by holding teams to 60.0 ppg and a 42.5 shooting percentage. A noted source of struggle for the Mustangs is in the rebounding department, hauling in a mere 28.6 per game with a minus-4.5 margin.
Although both teams enter Wednesday riding losing streaks, they're of a different sort. Tulane continues to find its way with new and young personnel while SMU is playing out a lost season with an upperclassman at the helm. Tulane should find a way to pull out a close one in Dallas if Tarrant is able to stay on the floor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tulane 61, SMU 56
02/22 10:37:48 ET