There’s always optimism at the tip.
Particularly when it’s the start of a new season, a new conference and even a new floor at Devlin Fieldhouse.
But all of the freshness in the building may have turned on a team known for its shooting. Tulane made just 1-of-20 3-pointers while Wake Forest pounded the Green Wave (0-1) 47-29 on the glass and controlled the paint, cruising to a 71-49 victory on the road Monday night.
It was the Demon Deacons’ (2-0) second road win since Dec. 22, 2012 and their first under new coach Danny Manning. It was Tulane’s first loss in a home opener since 2010 and its first as a member of the American Athletic Conference.
“We are happy, but this is expected,” Wake Forest forward Devin Thomas “We are an ACC school and they are a American Athletic Conference school.”
Wake Forest suffocated the Green Wave and forced a series of contested shots, as Tulane managed to make just two field goals in the first 17 minutes of the second half, turning a two-point game into a 20-point game without much resistance.
Even as Wake Forest pushed the lead farther and farther, its defensive intensity never waned. Instead, the Demon Deacons kept pushing Tulane’s offensive sets deeper on the perimeter and without a legitimate post presence, nearly every shot from beyond the arc was contested and rebound gobbled up leading to .
The first half was defined by a series of consecutive runs in opposite directions.
After staking Tulane out to a 6-2 lead, the Demon Deacons rolled out on a 20-0 run, and hardly allowed the Green Wave a decent look at the basket.
Ten different scorers propelled Wake out to a 26-8 advantage, thanks largely to pulling down 10 of its 14 total offensive rebounds in the first 13 minutes.
Then, Tulane turned to its guards. Namely Louis Dabney.
The junior scored nine consecutive points, spurred by a wing 3-pointer and followed by a pair of runs to the rim and the free throws to match. The buckets allowed Tulane to form a full-court press and crank up its pressure defense, where Jonathan Stark and Kajon Mack got into the action as the Green Wave rattled off a 13-0 run of its own to close the half 32-27.
But Tulane failed to carry the momentum back from the locker room.
The flurry that ended the first stanza was nowhere to be found as Wake jumped out on a 9-0 run around a trio of Tulane’s missed free throws and four bricked 3-pointers. Codi Miller-McIntyre successfully thwarted the Green Wave’s attempts to employ its full court press in the second half by scoring six points in the first seven minutes of the half.
From there, the Deacons took over and left Tulane searching for open shots that never came.
Now, Tulane is forced to wait until Thursday to find its shooting stroke when Mississippi Valley State comes to Devlin.
Tulane made its first addition to the 2015-16 roster on Monday afternoon, when Taron Oliver, Jr. signed his national letter of intent.
The 6-foot-9, 240-pounder from Washington, D.C. Is expected to provide help to a thin Tulane frontcourt. Oliver is ranked as the top prospect in The District by ESPN and is a three-star prospect.
“We are thrilled about the scoring, skill and versatility Taron can bring to our program,” Conroy said. “He is a very talented offensive front court player that can score around the basket in a variety of ways, but he also has the ability make plays on the perimeter facing the basket.”