NEW ORLEANS - Southern men’s basketball coach Roman Banks saw effort from his team.
It just wasn’t the “extra effort” the Jaguars (2-5) needed Wednesday night. Unbeaten Tulane (8-0) used its distinct size and strength advantage to cruise to a 78-53 win over the Jaguars in Fogelman Arena.
“They just bullied us tonight and pushed us all over the floor,” Banks said. “That’s not the character we want. We want a team that competes. We played hard, but it takes a level of extra effort to play tough against a team like this, especially on their home court.
“They didn’t do anything differently than what we prepared for, but at the end of the day they were able to pin their ears back and push us, and I was disappointed we didn’t fight them.”
Southern was overmatched by Tulane’s height, particularly when it came to the post where Tulane’s Tomas Bruha (7-feet), Kevin Thomas (6-9) and Josh Davis (6-8) were effective in stopping the Jaguars from getting rebounding position.
It took the Jaguars nearly four minutes and seven offensive possessions to score when Mike Celestin buried a 3-pointer from the right wing.
Southern took its only lead at 14-13 when Jameel Grace drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 11:27 remaining in the first half. Hanging on to the advantage proved to be far more difficult task.
Less than a minute later, Tulane snagged the lead and momentum when a Kendall Timmons’ layup swung the score to 15-14. The Wave rolled from there, sprinting out on a 22-4 run over the next eight minutes to gain an insurmountable 23-point lead before half.
The Jaguars had no answer for preseason All-Conference USA selection Timmons, who led all scorers with 21 points thanks to a scorching first-half streak. The junior scored Tulane’s final 13 points of the first half and did it efficiently. He finished 7-of-10 from the field and converted all six free-throw attempts.
Southern still had its moments, though.
Midway through the second half, forward Quinton Doggett sprinted past Tulane’s sizable frontcourt, catching a perfect pass by Grace, before slamming a thunderous alley-oop dunk, which elicited gasps and even polite applause from the 1,863 in attendance.
Grace paced the Jaguars, scoring 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting, including a second-half stretch when he scored 13 of SU’s 15 points. Doggett pieced together a double-double, scoring 12 points, making four of his first five shots, while pulling down 11 rebounds.
Those performances paced Southern in the second half, as it raised its shooting percentage from 30 percent in the first half to 40 percent by game’s end.
“It was better, but it still doesn’t show me much because we have to do it under pressure,” Banks said. “I’m more interested when we are down eight or up eight and see if those shots still fall.
“We need to define a person as a leader and those are the moments that will show us. For now, we still just don’t know.”
Southern simply couldn’t contain Tulane’s scoring bursts.
Thanks to its decided size advantage and sharpshooting from the outside (9-of-21 on 3-pointers), the Wave controlled the pace and shot more than 50 percent from the field until it cleared the bench late in the second half.
The Jaguars will be back in Fogelman next weekend to participate in the Skip Prosser tournament with games against Macmurray on Dec. 9 and Jacksonville State on Dec. 10. Banks said he fully expects to see the “extra effort” then.
“We just need to learn from this and be ready to move on,” Grace said. “We know we can play better than this, and we just need to decide to do it. We learn something from every game, good or bad, and that won’t be any different tonight.”