Vanderbilt sophomore transfer Samir Sehic has not shown the 3-point stroke he is capable of in his first year with the Tulane men's basketball team.
That's OK, though. He has more than made up for it with his ability to score from closer to the rim.
Courtesy of a month-long hot streak off the bench, Sehic leads all American Athletic Conference players in field goal percentage. Generously listed at 6-foot-9, 240 pounds, he keeps finding ways to score against bigger, more athletic defenders in the post.
"I'm just trying to do what I can," he said. "We've had a lot of guys finding me at the right time and setting me up for good shots, so I can't even take most of that credit. I just put the ball in the basket."
He has done it with incredible consistency in the last eight games, hitting 37 of 55 shots (67.3 percent) while averaging 12.8 points, the second highest total on the team in that span. Along the way, he passed teammate Melvin Frazier at the top of the league in field goal accuracy for the year (57.9 percent) and in conference play (a sterling 60.2 percent).
At some stage, his efficiency will pay off in a victory. Tulane (13-14, 4-11 AAC) has lost six in a row entering its game on Saturday at South Florida (8-20, 1-14), which earned its lone conference win in January at Devlin Fieldhouse despite a career-high 23 points from Sehic.
His strong hands, repertoire of quick shots and ability to finish left or right help him tremendously. His percentage of dunks on made field goals is low for a big man, but the ball usually goes in when he catches it near the basket.
"I've always been undersized and not as athletic as the guys I've been playing around," he said. "From a very young age I had to learn how to play a style of finesse plus strength. I'm not playing above the rim. I'm playing underneath it."
His matchup with brawny Wichita State center Shaquille Morris (6-foot-8, 279 pounds) on Wednesday night was telling. While Morris scored 25 points and grabbed 9 rebounds, Sehic answered with 16 points and 6 rebounds, connecting on 5-of-8 from the floor and all six of his free throws in a competitive 93-86 loss to the 13th-ranked Shockers.
"It was as good a game as he's had in terms of getting low-post position and sealing guys with big bodies," Tulane coach Mike Dunleavy said. "Early in the year he would give up that paint position too soon and get further away from the basket. He did a great job of continuing to work."
Defense remains an issue because of his physical disadvantage, but Sehic has cut down the mistakes that kept him on the bench for longer stretches earlier in the year and limited him to single-digit scoring totals in six straight games during December and early January.
"He's definitely gotten better," Dunleavy said. "He's managing it and trying to put us in a position to get help to him as needed. One of the reasons we bring him off the bench instead of starting him is because of his size and trying to create the right match-ups for him."
Sehic's adjustment is even more impressive considering he did not anticipate playing this role. With starting center Blake Paul struggling to score and getting in early foul trouble, the burden in the post has fallen almost entirely to Sehic.
Never mind his season averages of 10.6 points. Lately, he has been lethal offensively even though he has missed all eight of his 3-point attempts in the last seven games, dropping him to 15 of 45 for the year.
At the same time, he made 29 of 36 shots from inside the arc.
"I'm able to play inside and out," he said. "It's a big reason why I feel like I'm valuable, but coach (Dunleavy) just has me playing more around the rim. Whatever he needs me to do, I'm going to do."