Picking up where he left off last Saturday, Caleb Daniels scored Tulane’s first seven points and assisted on Jordan Cornish’s 3-point basket as the Green Wave took a two-point lead into the first media timeout at Memphis in the American Athletic Conference tournament.
Reality set in soon afterward. Tulane, winless in conference play for the first time in school history, could not hang with the Tigers on their home court, falling 83-68 on Thursday at FedEx Forum. The Wave (4-27) lost its last 20 games, going all of January, February and March without a victory and surpassing its previous high loss total of 25 set in 2016-17, coach Mike Dunleavy’s first season.
Daniels, who scored a career-high 36 points against Wichita State in the regular-season finale, followed up with 19 points, seven rebounds and three assists. The Wave stayed even for the first 10 minutes, but the Tigers took control with a 19-4 run and led by as much as 22 points in the second half.
“The first half we let the game get away from us,” Dunleavy said. “We didn’t get a lot of loose-ball opportunities, and we made some turnovers against their pressure. We righted that in the second half, but we missed a lot of opportunity baskets right by the hoop.”
Run out of the same building 102-76 on Feb. 20, Tulane made one last push this time. Connor Crabtree’s layup cut the deficit to 77-68 with 3:12 left, and the Wave had three chances to get closer, but Daniels, Blake Paul and Shakwon Barrett all missed shots badly.
Paul, a senior from Landry-Walker, had 12 points and six rebounds in his final game for Tulane. Cornish, the Wave’s other senior, was benched for a large portion of the second half after committing his fourth turnover and finished with seven points.
Barrett added six points, five rebounds, four steals and tied for a game-high with seven assists off the bench.
Memphis was led by Jeremiah Martin’s 21 points and seven assists, as Mike Parks Jr., compiled a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Kyvon Davenport also scored 17 points.
Martin, who poured in a career-high 43 points in the teams’ previous meeting, had only 16 until sinking five free throws in the final minute when Tulane was forced to foul.
“We did a pretty job on him today,” Dunleavy said. “He’s a tough customer with his ability to take you off the dribble and extend the floor.”
Tulane shot 15 for 29 (.517) in the opening 20 minutes, but Memphis shot 18 for 33 (.545) and 8 for 17 (.471) beyond the 3-point arc while getting assists on 16 of its 18 baskets with just five turnovers.