Men’s basketball continues strong stretch of conference matches

Jeremy Rosen, Staff Reporter

Tulane University men’s basketball continues to perform exceptionally well in their past conference matchups. After starting the season with a disappointing 3-6 record, the team has vastly improved since beginning their American Athletic Conference matchups, going 5-3 in conference play. 

On Jan. 12, the team traveled to Kansas to compete against Wichita State, an opponent that has traditionally posed a great challenge to the Green Wave. Tulane was down 28-42 at halftime but rallied back in the second half to edge out the Shockers 68-67 in a close contest. 

While only five players scored a basket in this matchup, all of them scored double digits to put the team over the top. This was the team’s first ever win against Wichita State, defeating a conference opponent that had consistently beaten down Tulane since 2018. 

The team then suffered back to back losses against tough conference opponents. They had one of their toughest matchups yet against the SMU Mustangs, who currently sit at second place in the AAC. 

The Green Wave had a very efficient first half from behind the arc, leading by 5 points going into halftime. However, this efficiency did not carry on into the second half, as the team shot an abysmal 25.8% from the field to lose the game 75-66

Tulane then went on to lose a heartbreaker of a match against the University of Central Florida 68-66. It was a tightly contested match throughout the game, but the team’s poor shooting from beyond the arc left points on the table that could have pulled them ahead. The team performed well defensively, holding the Knights to just a 38% field goal percentage this game.

Against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, the team put up their most dominant performance all season, winning 97-63. The 34-point victory is the team’s largest margin of victory since joining the AAC in the 2014-15 season. 

The team was on fire offensively, shooting 63% from three and only turning the ball over seven times all game. The offensive duo of Jaylen Forbes and Jalen Cook led the way with 24 and 23 points, respectively. 

Despite still having a negative overall record at 8-9, Tulane’s strong conference play has propelled them to fourth on the AAC standings. The 5-3 record against conference opponents puts them only behind the University of Houston, SMU and Temple University.

All season this team has been led offensively by the backcourt duo of Cook and Forbes, as well as forward Kevin Cross. Cook’s 19.6 points per game puts him as the second leading scorer in the entire AAC, while Forbes and Cross are both in the top 10. Cook’s scoring and playmaking abilities have been critical to the Green Wave’s recent success. R.J. McGee and Sion James have been valuable role players surrounding the three main scorers, while DeVon Baker has been a great sparkplug off the bench.

The team’s next game will be a rematch against Wichita State at home, followed by a tough match against seventh-ranked Houston.