Things were looking up for the Tulane men’s basketball team Monday as it stared down at almost everyone else in the American Athletic Conference standings.
Junior guard Louis Dabney, who was sidelined by a high ankle sprain less than two minutes into Saturday’s upset win at Memphis, declared himself likely to play against league co-leader Temple on Wednesday at Devlin Fieldhouse.
Dabney led the team in scoring before Saturday’s 74-66 win, when he hit two early free throws, then watched the rest of the game from the bench after getting hurt on a layup attempt. He had 19 points and five assists in Tulane’s 67-59 win at East Carolina on New Year’s Eve.
“It’s day-to-day, but I think I should be ready by Wednesday,” Dabney said before Monday’s practice. “I was actually pretty scared because I heard it pop, but when I talked to the (team) doctor, he said it was OK.”
Dabney is used to playing through pain. He tore an ACL in his senior year at Riverside but played in 34 games for Tulane as a freshman in 2012-13 even though the knee was not 100 percent healthy.
Last year, he averaged a team-best 15.2 points. Although the Wave (11-3, 2-0) managed to beat Memphis, it would have a hard time doing the same against Temple (10-4, 2-0) without him. The Owls beat then-No. 10 Kansas 77-52 on Dec. 22 and knocked off defending national champion Connecticut on the road in their AAC opener.
“I think so,” Tulane coach Ed Conroy said when asked whether Dabney would play Wednesday. “We’ll find out more as we go through the week, but he’s as tough as they come. If anybody’s going to be ready, he will.”
Dabney admitted it was frustrating having to sit out almost the entire Memphis game, but he loved the result. Tulane snapped a 22-game losing streak to the Tigers.
“It’s just like what I’ve been saying the whole season,” he said. “I don’t have to score 20 points a game, because we have other players that can pick up the slack. When I got hurt, all I said was, ‘Keep going, keep pushing.’ That’s what the guys did, and we didn’t look back — not one time.”
Stark honored by AAC
Sophomore point guard Jonathan Stark was named AAC Player of the Week after scoring 46 points with eight rebounds, seven assists and one turnover as the Wave beat East Carolina and Memphis.
Against Memphis, Stark scored 24 points, dished out four assists and pulled down four rebounds without committing a turnover in 36 minutes. He also had four steals and helped hold Memphis’ starting guards to nine points.
Stark shot 56.7 percent (17-of-30) and 63.6 percent from 3-point range (7-of-11) in the wins and is averaging a team-high 13.2 points.
He is the first Tulane player to win a league player of the week award since Josh Davis landed the Conference USA honor Jan. 21, 2013.