Tulane falls at home to UCF, 75-50

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NEW ORLEANS – Freshman Kevin Zhang and junior Samir Sehic each scored in double figures, but it was not enough, as the Tulane men’s basketball team dropped a 75-50 decision to UCF Wednesday night at Avron B. Fogelman Arena in the Devlin Fieldhouse.

Sehic finished with a team-high 11 points, while Zhang scored 10.

Sophomore Caleb Daniels and senior Blake Paul also chipped in offensively with nine and eight points, respectively. In addition, Paul pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds for Tulane (4-14, 0-6 AAC)

“They are a really good team – probably the best team in our conference,” head coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. said. “Obviously, we had major size issues in terms of personnel, but I don’t think any of that really mattered. Our turnovers were killers. We have to value the basketball. When we started turning the ball over, it created a gap.”

As a team, Tulane was outshot 44-33 percent. Additionally, UCF (15-3, 5-1 AAC) held a 42-38 rebounding advantage and forced the Green Wave into 19 turnovers, which led to 21 points for the Knights.

UCF opened up a 10-point lead in the first eight minutes and never looked back, as it held a double-digit lead for the remainder of the game. Tulane never led in the game.

At halftime, Tulane trailed 45-23 after shooting just 33.3 percent from the field.

“When we came out for the second half, our objective was to win the second half,” Dunleavy Sr. said. “I thought we got some great looks, but then we got into the mode of playing faster than we need to play. We needed to slow them down and use Tacko’s (Fall) mobility against him.”

Tulane hung tough with UCF throughout the second half and fell just short of outscoring the Golden Knights in the final 20 minutes (30-27).

The Green Wave’s defense significantly tightened up in the second half as they held the Golden Knights to just 34.3 percent, compared to 52.8 percent shooting in the first half.

“We just have to keep playing hard and trying to play hard,” Dunleavy said.

The Green Wave returns action on Saturday as they head to Dallas to take on SMU. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on ESPNU.

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