Cameron Reynolds sized up his defender, saw a tiny opening and leaned into a contested outside shot in the first half against Cincinnati.
It went in, but it counted for only two points because his foot was on the 3-point line.
Getting clean looks proved just as difficult for Tulane the rest of the night, too.
Providing another exhibition of why it is second nationally in points allowed and field-goal-percentage defense, 10th-ranked Cincinnati suffocated the Green Wave at Devlin Fieldhouse in front of 2,824 fans and an ESPN audience on Thursday night. Taking the life out of the building quickly, the bruising Bearcats romped to a 78-49 victory.
"They've got great size and athleticism and give great effort," Tulane coach Mike Dunleavy said. "Our effort wasn't as good as their effort by any means."
Tulane (14-15, 5-12 American Athletic Conference) shot 7 of 28 in the first half, did not hit a 3-pointer until Jordan Cornish sank one with 10:33 left in the game and finished a miserable 31.4 percent from the floor. The Wave lost for the 33rd consecutive time against a ranked opponent dating back to December of 1999 (No. 25 North Carolina State), and it has not beaten a top 10 team since sweeping Memphis in 1983.
"They do everything at full speed, try to make it tough for you and then they finish their plays," Reynolds said. "They are just a really good team."
Intimidated by Cincinnati's withering defense, Tulane resorted to flinging shots at the basket. Melvin Frazier's wild transition layup attempt glanced off the backboard and came nowhere near the rim in the second half. The Wave missed several others in the lane, either because the Bearcats swatted them away or because Tulane rushed them out of respect for Cincinnati's shot-blocking.
"They did speed us up, even in the open court when he had an opportunity to attack," Dunleavy said. "We didn't do a good enough job of attacking their bodies and getting to the free throw line. We avoided some of the contact, and with their athleticism they made us miss shots maybe we would have finished against other teams."
Cincinnati (26-4, 15-2) locked up at least a share of the AAC title. The Bearcats maintained their one-game lead on Wichita State, which beat Central Florida in overtime earlier Thursday night, and will travel to Wichita, Kansas, for the regular-season finale on Sunday.
If the Shockers win, they will earn the No. 1 seed in the AAC tournament with a season sweep of the Bearcats.
Despite a loud crowd at the start, the Wave fell behind 17-7 by the 12-minute mark and gave up a 10-0 run later in the half as Cincinnati put the game away early, leading 39-20 at halftime.
It really got out of hand after the break when the Bearcats held the Wave to six points in the first nine minutes. Another 12-0 spurt gave Cincinnati its 61-28 advantage, sending many fans home early.
Tulane never came closer than 25 the rest of the way.
"It's disappointing, because we invited everyone out and they came in full effect," Reynolds said. "We wanted to do well and we ended up not performing as good as we should."
The Wave never had a run of more than five points until trailing by more than 30 in the second half.
"They (the fans) tried hard tonight to help us along, but we really didn't give them a chance," Dunleavy said. "We maybe had a chance at the beginning of the second half, and then we gave up four straight buckets, which threw cold water on that opportunity."
Frazier led the Wave with 13 points but hit only 4 of 11 shots. Freshman Caleb Daniels scored eight of his 10 points in the second, and Reynolds, playing his final home game, added nine on 4-of-12 shooting.
Daniels, who went 2 of 4, was the only player on the roster to hit at least half of his shots.
Cincinnati played without Jacob Evans, its leading scorer and a St. Michael product, after he limped off the court with an ankle injury at the 8:05 mark of the first half. He already had 11 points by then, but coach Mick Cronin shut him down for the rest of the night even though he wanted to return in front of family and friends who made the trip from Baton Rouge.
"It's March, so we've got a lot bigger fish to fry," Cronin said. "He wasn't going to go back in no matter what he told me."
Bearcats forward Kyle Washington led all scorers with 16 points. Cane Broome came off the bench for 13 points, hitting all but one of his seven shots, and the Bearcats outrebounded the Wave 41-26.
It was a physical mismatch from start to finish. Cincinnati outscored Tulane 24-8 on second-chance points and added 23 points off 17 turnovers.
After getting dominated like this, Tulane has to flush this performance the same way it did a 73-42 loss at Houston in February. The Wave finishes at Central Florida on Sunday and will stay in Orlando, Florida, for the AAC tournament, playing its opener next Thursday.
"We can't get this one back, so we can't harp on it," Reynolds said. "We'll just get ready for tomorrow, see what we did wrong and look forward to UCF and go on from there."