Tulane rallies in second half, ends SMU’s conference win streak
NEW ORLEANS – The Tulane men’s basketball team outscored SMU by 10 points in the second half in a 73-70 American Athletic Conference victory over the league’s reigning champions on Thursday evening at Avron B. Fogelman Arena in the Devlin Fieldhouse.
Cameron Reynolds led the Green Wave with 20 points and six rebounds, while Melvin Frazier compiled 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting, five assists, four rebounds and three steals, and Caleb Daniels scored 11 points off the bench on 3-for-3 shooting to lead Tulane (11-4, 2-1 AAC).
The Green Wave made 18 of 20 free throws on the night (.900), including nine of 10 in the second half, and shot 16-for-27 (.593) overall in the final 20 minutes, including 6-for-12 (.500) beyond the 3-point arc.
SMU (12-4, 2-1 AAC) was led by Shake Milton’s game-high 24 points on 9-for-14 shooting, while Jarrey Foster contributed 16 points and seven rebounds.
The Mustangs scored the first four points of the game, but the Green Wave made a couple of early field goals and made their first four free throws to tie the game at eight all on a pair of makes by Samir Sehic. The Wave forced four straight scoreless possessions for the Mustangs and pulled in front for the first time, 11-9, on a 3-pointer by Ona Embo with 11:55 to go.
Tulane kept SMU without a basket for more than five and a half minutes, but a 12-4 run by the Mustangs highlighted by three consecutive baskets and capped with a Foster dunk gave them a 21-15 advantage with 7:11 remaining.
The Mustangs grew their lead to double digits for the first time, 30-20, on an Emelogu layup with 3:28 to go, but back-to-back layups by Jordan Cornish and Frazier cut the deficit to six. The Green Wave would not draw any closer to end the first 20 minutes of action, as the Ponies went to the locker room ahead, 33-26.
Tulane shot 8-for-22 (.364) from the field, 1-for-10 (.100) from 3-point land and 9-for-10 (.900) at the free throw line in the first half, while SMU went 11-for-27 (.407) from the floor, 3-for-5 (.600) beyond the arc and 8-for-11 (.727) at the foul stripe to go with a 17-13 rebounding edge.
SMU extended its lead back to 10 on its first possession of the second half, but the Green Wave made four of their first five shots overall, including a 3 by Reynolds to draw within seven, 42-35, at the 15:51 mark. The Mustangs’ margin grew to as large as 12 with the score 51-39 and 13:20 remaining, but a 13-3 scoring run by the Wave, capped on a baseline jumper by Ona Embo with 8:27 left, cut the deficit to just a pair, 54-52.
A layup by Milton brought SMU’s advantage back to four, but Cornish and Reynolds responded with consecutive treys at the other end to tie the game at 58-all with 6:58 left. Reynolds buried a third 3-pointer in a row for Tulane to take a 61-58 advantage and force the Mustangs into calling timeout with 6:20 to go.
The Green Wave continued to sink outside shots – making eight in a row – after a triple by Frazier made it 66-61 at the five-minute mark. SMU re-tied the game with five straight points, but a Frazier jumper at the 2:16 mark put the Wave back in front for good. A pair by Sehic with seven seconds remaining put the Wave ahead by four, to seal the eventual three points triumph.
Tulane finished the night shooting 24-for-49 (.490) overall and 7-for-22 (.318) from outside while owning a 20-9 scoring advantage off the bench and a 9-5 edge on the fast break. SMU concluded the evening shooting 25-for-57 (.439) overall, 5-for-11 (.455) from range and 15-for-22 (.682) at the charity stripe, while outscoring the Wave, 26-20, in the paint and 10-4 on second chances.
Tulane will hit the road for its next matchup at Memphis on Tuesday, Jan. 9. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. (CT) at FedEx Forum and the game will be televised nationally on ESPNews.
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