Barring a few key wins, men’s basketball struggling early on in conference

Abe Seldowitz, Staff Reporter

Conference play has commenced for Green Wave men’s basketball. The team started its AAC games on Monday, Dec. 30, beginning with a road trip to square off against the then No. 9 University of Memphis. Tulane trailed Memphis by three points in the last few minutes of the game but could not close the gap, losing by a final score of 84-73. 

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In its 2020 AAC home opener, Tulane faced the University of Cincinnati. The Green Wave had just 10 turnovers, continuing a streak of six consecutive games with 10 turnovers or less. That level of ball security is no small feat, especially in today’s fast-paced game. Sophomore forward Kevin Zhang scored 15 points, all of which came from 3-pointers as he shot a perfect 5-for-5 from deep.  

Next, the Green Wave faced the University of Connecticut Huskies on the road. Teshaun Hightower tallied 17 points and five rebounds to go along with K.J. Lawson’s 16 points and perfect shooting from three-point range. Tulane trailed 29-36 at half but was unable to catch up despite outscoring UConn in the second half.

On Jan. 11, the Green Wave beat Temple University on the road by a score of 65-51 thanks to a double-double by K.J. Lawson, who ended the game with 16 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and six steals. Throughout the game, the Green Wave maintained a stingy defense that never allowed Temple to get into a rhythm. Tulane held onto a double-digit lead for most of the game. Tulane shot 24-54, 9-25 from 3-point range and 8-12 from the free throw line. 

Tulane’s first conference home loss of the season came on Jan. 14 to the University of Central Florida by a score of 74-55. Tulane struggled shooting the ball, ending the game with a 36.2% field goal percentage, well below its 43% season average. UCF’s scoring was spread out among its players, with four Knights in double-digit scoring. The Knights also had a 36-31 rebounding advantage. 

Tulane’s next game was on Saturday, Jan. 18, versus the University of Tulsa. Graduate transfer K.J. Lawson scored 15 points to lead his squad, junior guard Teshaun Hightower scored 14 and graduate transfer guard Christion Thompson scored 10 points to round out the team’s double-digit scorers.

This impressive point total, however, was not enough for the Green Wave to come out victorious, with the resulting 67-54 loss to Tulsa being the team’s second straight loss at home.

On the bright side, head coach Ron Hunter was pleased with his team’s effort after the game. 

“I thought we played hard, and I thought we played with energy throughout the game,” Hunter said. 

The shooting percentage may tell the story of why the Green Wave was not able to keep up with Tulsa’s scoring. The team shot merely 21-55 in field goals and 6-25 from 3-point range. Coach Hunter noted his team’s shooting slump in recent games. 

“We’re in a bad shooting slump right now — the worst we’ve been in all season,” Hunter said. 

The Green Wave will have to remedy its shooting woes if it wants to get back in the win column.