Tulsa, OK – The Tulane Green Wave will try to deny the Memphis Tigers their record-setting seventh Conference USA Tournament title when the two clash in the quarterfinals at the BOK Center on Thursday.
Tulane stumbled down the stretch with four consecutive losses by an average of 5.5 ppg to close out the regular season. The Green Wave's poor finish made it the eighth-seed, although it could have finished tied for third had it won out. Tulane rallied back from a 13-point deficit in the second half on Wednesday to defeat Marshall, 66-64, and advance to face the Tigers. Ricky Tarrant scored 21 points for the eighth-seeded Green Wave while Josh Davis posted 18 points and 12 boards.Kendall Timmons added 10 points, five rebounds and four assists to help Tulane snap a four-game losing streak.
This season, Davis leads Tulane with 17.5 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. Tarrant ranks second with 16.1 ppg, and he leads the Green Wave with 3.5 apg as well. Callahan stands third with 10.9 ppg. The Green Wave are averaging 69.2 ppg and giving up 64.6 ppg.
If Tulane pulls off the upset, it will take on either East Carolina or Tulsa in the semifinals.
An upset if highly unlikely though, as Memphis dominated the league during its final tour through it before it joins the current Big East for 2013-14. The Tigers were one of just three Division I teams to finish the regular season without a loss in league action. The other two schools, Norfolk State and Gonzaga, have already won their respective conference tournaments. Memphis relied heavily on do-everything guard Will Barton last season, en route to the title. This year's squad is much more balanced, which led to just as positive results. Memphis, which is ranked 20th in the polls, has only lost one game since Dec. 15, and that setback came at the Cintas Center to a tough Xavier Musketeers unit.
Junior guard Joe Jackson (13.8 ppg, 4.9 apg) is clearly a leader of the Tigers this season. Sophomore swingman Adonis Thomas (11.3 ppg) was once projected to be an NBA lottery pick. Although his numbers aren't overwhelming, he is definitely starting to impress scouts once again with his athleticism and scoring ability. Thomas is not the only capable forward for the Tigers, as Tarik Black, Shaq Goodwin and D.J. Stephens are all solid role players. Memphis is the league's third-best team in forcing opponents' miscues. The Tigers are forcing their foes to turn the ball over 15.6 times per contest.Memphis is the league's third-best team in forcing opponents' miscues. The Tigers are forcing their foes to turn the ball over 15.6 times per contest. Memphis has not lost a C-USA Tournament game since 2010 and its most recent loss before that came in 2005.