North Carolina looks to continue putting a bad game in the past. A win over Michigan started that process. Then, Joel Berry II and Luke Maye paced the Tar Heels to an 85-75 win over Davidson on Friday night. There’s still work to be done in the five remaining games before ACC play begins. The final push to conference play starts with the Tulane Green Wave visiting the Smith Center this afternoon.
Mike Dunleavy, Sr. was brought on to coach the Green Wave prior to the 2016-2017 basketball season. That season didn’t go quite as planned as Tulane managed just six wins for the season while racking up 25 losses (one of those losses being to North Carolina on opening night).
This season, things were looking optimistic after a pair of exhibition wins over LSU and Loyola. In an interview with The Advocate, Coach Dunleavy stated that he felt good with the direction of the team. After already tying last season’s win total with a 6-1 start, it seems that this team is primed to have a successful season.
This week, the Tulane Hullabaloo stopped to reflect on the Green Wave’s great start. They highlighted that Tulane, much like Davidson, likes to play from the outside in. According to sports-reference.com, they are shooting just a tick under 40% from long-range and close to 50% overall. However, their defensive strength has also been a major factor in their great start, holding opponents to 66 points per game. They have a defensive rating of 91.3 points per 100-possessions, which is 53rd overall.
Keep your eye on Melvin Frazier (19 ppg) and Cameron Reynolds (17 ppg) to be the biggest producers for Tulane. Frazier is shooting over 60% from the field the season and over 45% from outside. He was recently named the AAC’s Player of the Week; Tulane’s first Player of the Week since joining the conference three seasons ago. Reynolds adds another layer of shooting. Considered the “sharp-shooter” of the team, he has hit 18 of the 39 (46%) three pointers he’s taken and 45% overall. In their last game against Alcorn State, Reynolds had a career night scoring 28 points, hitting seven from outside.
The Green Wave also gets contributions from Vanderbilt transfer Samir Sehic (13.6 ppg), Ray Ona Embo (10.6 ppg), and UNLV transfer Jordan Cornish (9.1 ppg).
Luke Maye continues to impress with what seems like nightly 20-10 stat lines. Joel Berry found his stroke against Davidson, tabbing his second 25+ point game this season. Kenny Williams (13 ppg) and Theo Pinson (10 ppg) have shown flashes, as well. Brandon Robinson, Jalek Felton, and Andrew Platek have all seen good minutes and all continue to improve. With an emphasis on a smaller lineup, the “Baby Bigs” haven’t factored into the equation as much. Against Michigan and Davidson, Garrison Brooks, Sterling Manley, and Brandon Huffman combined to score 22 points on 9-15 shooting and 20 rebounds. For comparison, Luke Maye had 24 points and 17 rebounds against Davidson.
North Carolina will continue to use this small-ball line up. However, due to lacking perimeter defense, Tulane will be able to keep this close for a while. Eventually, the Tar Heels’ speed and athleticism will take over. North Carolina wins a fast paced game 85-70