It was not the score that bothered coach Mike Dunleavy the most.
It was the way the Tulane men’s basketball team arrived there in a comprehensive 97-73 loss to North Carolina on Sunday.
While the 13th-ranked Tar Heels worked for any shot they wanted, the Green Wave took the easy way out, settling for the first available look in a game that got out of hand quickly.
Carolina never looked finer than it did Sunday, shooting a season-best 65.4 percent while limiting Tulane to 37.7 percent.
“I thought that we were further along and that we've made more progress,” Dunleavy said. “I saw some of what I was looking for, but for big parts of the game and early on we collapsed defenses and went for plays ourselves. We tried to finish and tried to put numbers on the board and that's not the way we're supposed to play.”
After a rough recent stretch. Tulane (6-2) will look to return to the unselfish way it played during a 5-0 start when it entertains Southern (2-5) at noon on Wednesday.
The Jaguars are just happy to get back on the court after a seven-day break.
"It's finals week for us, so they can get away from finals a little bit," coach Morris Scott said. "Trying to find practice time around finals has been a little tough. But we've been able to do a couple of individual workouts, get them on the floor and see if they can compete a little bit."
Tulane’s dip began Nov. 26 at Georgia State, when it shot a season-worst 31.0 percent in a 70-59 loss after torching the nets in its first five games. Georgia State lost to Prairie View and Liberty in two home contests surrounding its win against the Wave.
Tulane followed with a sloppy 81-65 victory against Alcorn State, which played most of the way without SWAC preseason player of the year Reginal Johnson, who suffered a gruesome, season-ending leg injury in the first half. The Braves had fallen 99-59 to LSU in their opener.
Then came North Carolina. The Tar Heels scored 62 points in the paint, barely missing a shot when they went inside.
The Wave’s leading scorers, Melvin Frazier and Cameron Reynolds, combined for 45 points on 17-of-31 shooting. Their teammates were a woeful 9 of 38.
“We got into the paint and we drew big guys to us instead of dropping the ball off,” Dunleavy said. “We tried to finish and tried to put numbers on the board and that's not the way we're supposed to play. We didn't make plays for others and they just beat us up. It has to be a learning tool for us.”
Southern, which was picked second in the Southwestern Athletic Conference preseason poll, began the year with five straight road defeats before beating Tennessee-Martin and NAIA school Wiley at home. The Jaguars hung tough with top-ranked Duke, losing 78-61, but were blown out 102-55 by Illinois and 86-58 by Missouri State.
SWAC first-team selection Jared Sam, a 6-10 senior forward, averages a team-best 16.9 points and 7.3 rebounds. He has scored 36 and shot 70 percent in the Jaguars’ last two meetings with Tulane, including a 17-point outing in the their lone victory in the series — 90-82 at home in December of 2015.
Other than Sam, though, the Jaguars will be looking up at the Wave.
"They are another team with a tremendous size advantage against us," Scott said. "They only have two players probably on their roster that are under 6-5. We'll have our challenges trying to guard, match their size. Hopefully our speed and quickness, we can utilize that a little bit and just go over there to play a good brand of basketball."
The game is in the afternoon instead of night because it is Education Day, with more than 800 students, teachers and staff from local schools between first and sixth grades expected to attend. … The two teams are meeting for the eighth year in a row. Tulane leads the series 9-1.