Tulane Green Wave head coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. gestures during the game with the Temple Owls Sunday, February 4, 2018 at the Devlin Fieldhouse in New Orleans.


Mike Dunleavy had seen enough.

Or, more accurately, he had not seen anything from the Tulane men's basketball team in the way of effort or perseverance.

"I told our guys you didn't bring your lunch pail tonight," he said in his postgame radio interview minutes after the Green Wave's 73-42 loss at Houston on Sunday. "At halftime I didn't know who that team was out there. The shot selection we had and the mistakes that we made showed no toughness and no I.Q."

He wasn't finished with his tirade, focusing on the lousy offense that produced the lowest point total in his two-year tenure. Coming off a tremendous effort in an overtime loss at Tulsa, Tulane (13-11, 10-8) had nothing left physically or emotionally against Houston, which was hell-bent on revenge for an upset defeat at Devlin Fieldhouse in January.

The Wave trailed 33-10 with 4:00 left in the first half, fell behind 50-19 five minutes into the second half and was behind 69-34 at the 3:00 mark.

"Our shots weren't going down because we went back to settling," Dunleavy said. "The last couple games we did a good job of moving the ball and attacking and creating some good shots for each other. Tonight we took some selfish pills or something because guys were thinking mainly about themselves.

"It's going to be one of the least enjoyable things to watch this film again and have to try to use it for teaching points, but we have to move on. I hope not to see another game like this."

The question is how the players will react to his harsh words with two winnable home games on the agenda — East Carolina (9-14, 3-9 American Athletic Conference) on Wednesday night and Memphis (14-11, 5-7) on Saturday. The Wave has dropped seven of nine games since a 2-1 conference start, but one of its victories came against the Pirates in overtime.

Memphis, meanwhile, has lost five of its last six, including an overtime defeat to East Carolina.

Tulane should be closer to full strength. Leading scorer Melvin Frazier and starting point guard Ray Ona Embo, who missed the Tulsa game with injuries, returned against Houston but were less than 100-percent healthy.

Frazier scored the Wave's first seven points but did exhibit his usual defensive intensity.

Ona Embo, bothered by a bad hand, went scoreless until late in the second half and took only three shots, finishing with 4 points and 2 assists.

Just as significantly, Tulane came nowhere close to getting the same production from Jordan Cornish, Samir Sehic and Colin Slater. The trio accounted for 55 points on 21-of-38 shooting against Tulsa before nose-diving to 6 points on 2-of-12 shooting at Houston.

Sehic, from nearby Cypress, Texas, connected on 1 of 4 in his return to the Houston metro area. He entered having hit 24 of his last 35 shots, ranking among the top five AAC players in field goal percentage.

The Wave's defense was not much better.

"There were switches where were supposed to switch, we didn't switch, and bumps on cutters that we didn't bump," Dunleavy said. "It was just too many mistakes after the time we put in."

Tulane, which has plummeted to 10th place in the AAC, still has time to move up the standings. Only two games separate it from sixth-place Central Florida.

To have any chance of getting there, the Wave has to try.

"I told the guys, look, I'm not here to coach effort or toughness," Dunleavy said. "I'm here to give you a game plan that helps you beat these guys."

Follow Guerry Smith on Twitter, @guersmith