The scoreboard at Devlin Fieldhouse had some fresh bulbs to light.
For the first time in 12 years, Tulane cracked triple-digits and lit up all three panels under the Green Wave’s name, during a 100-61 victory over Mississippi Valley State on Thursday night in Devlin Fieldhouse.
Aaron Liberman’s last-minute layup ended the only suspense of the second half, as the remaining fans in Devlin cheered heartily when Tulane reached the century mark for the first time since a 103-47 win over Savannah State on Dec. 20, 2002 under coach Shawn Finney.
“It’s just a testament to how deep our deep our team is,” said guard Jay Hook, who led all scorers with 18 points. “There’s not really a drop-off, whether it’s scoring or defense. We have some stuff to fine tune, but we really do have a lot of firepower. Seeing that 100th point go up was really cool.”
The simple sight of seeing the ball go through the basket helped change the tenor and mood around the Tulane basketball program, not to mention the obvious boost it provided on the scoreboard. Just three days after being bottled up and beaten down in a season-opening loss to Wake Forest, the Green Wave (1-1) latched onto its momentum and rode it hard.
Even as Tulane’s lead increased to more than 40 points in the second half, its defensive pressure rarely loosened.
“That’s part of what coach told us to do,” reserve guard Kajon Mack said. “Keep up the intensity, stay on the ball and don’t let up. So we didn’t.”
Of course, the offense never faltered either. Outside of a slow four minutes at the game’s onset, Tulane poured it on, converting 32-of-57 shots (59.7 percent), racking up 23 assists and dominating an out-gunned MVSU (0-3) defense, which surrendered its second triple-digit performance of the season.
Tulane also feasted on turnovers, scoring 25 points off of Delta Devils’ miscues in the first 30 minutes alone. It’s deep rotation also got into the act, scoring 49 points off the bench as nine different players logged at least 10 minutes.
After falling behind 10-5 in the first four minutes, Tulane’s offense finally came to life for the first time this season. Mack’s 3-pointer with 14:44 remaining in the half broke the seal on the heels of missing 22 of its previous 23 shot from beyond the arc.
“It really helped seeing one of those go in, personally,” Hook said. “It’s just having confidence and the persistence to swing the ball from side to side and once we got those going and the assists are going, those good teamwork plays really got us going.”
From there, the Green Wave caught fire and made five of its next seven 3-pointers, helping spur a 22-7 run which pushed Tulane’s lead out to 27-17. The Delta Devils wouldn’t be able to work itself back into contention.
The 41-27 halftime advantage provided a comfortable cushion for the Green Wave, but its momentum never slowed down. A 21-5 run pushed the advantage to 29 points midway through the half, as Tulane’s success rate crept above 60 percent from the perimeter and the field.
Tulane is hoping its hot shooting carries over through the Thanksgiving holiday weekend as it hosts Southern-New Orleans, Southern, Southeastern Louisiana and Tennessee Tech before the end of the month with a chance to get a groove going before the competition stiffens back up in December.
“I thought we did a better job, regardless of the opponent, of taking care of the things we need to take care of,” Tulane coach Ed Conroy said. “Whether it’s guarding the basketball, finishing possessions or most of all, sharing the ball and getting to more than one side on the attack, it was needed.”