PHILADELPHIA — Coming into Temple to open its league play, Tulane could have entered with a sense of apprehension facing the Owls, who were ranked 13th in the latest RPI and had won six straight against the Green Wave dating to 1996.
However, Tulane continued to validate its hot start, leaving the Liacouras Center with an impressive 85-75 victory in both teams' American Athletic Conference opener.
Tulane (10-3, 1-0) took control from the start and presented match-up problems for Temple (7-4, 0-1) throughout the night.
The Green Wave, winner of three straight and five of its last seven, had four players score in double figures led by Melvin Frazier’s game-high 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting.
Cameron Reynolds scored nine of his 17 points in the opening half to help the Green Wave to a 38-29 advantage. Tulane build a 14-point lead but needed a seven-point flurry in the final minute to offset a late Temple rally.
Reynolds also had a game-high 10 rebounds, Blake Paul added 12 points and Ray Ona Embo had 11.
Frazier sealed the game when he scored a breakaway layup off of Jordan Cornish's long pass to give the Green Wave an 81-73 advantage with 43 seconds left. He then capped the night with pair of slam dunks — the last one a windmill slam — in the final 15 seconds.
“This was a very big win for our team against a team that had a high RPI ranking,” said Frazier. “Coach (Mike Dunleavy) talked about defense winning the game, and that’s what we did all night.
“Our offense took advantage of most of the mismatches we had all night. We fell down at some times, but we battled back. This is another big win that really says a lot about the chemistry we have out there.”
Tulane held Temple off the entire second half as both teams picked up the pace. The Green Wave held a steady lead that stayed between four and 10 points the entire half.
The Green Wave also hit its share of timely free throws, connecting on 19 of 20 attempts.
In the end, it proved to be an extension of what Tulane has accomplished this season, considering the Wave won just six games a year ago and was picked to finish 10th in the AAC.
“This speaks about our growth and style of play,” said Dunleavy. “Our pre-conference play was terrific, and it gave us a nice start to the season.
“They (Temple) play a small lineup, and we worked on posting and creating mismatches. Our guys did a great job on executing. We hit our free throws and that helped.”
Dunleavy also was pleased with the increased productivity of Frazier and Reynolds.
“Melvin (Frazier) has a chance to be the most improved player in the league,” Dunleavy said. “He used to shoot the ball on the way down and not use his left hand. He has been playing terrific.
“Cam (Reynolds) improved his game last year, and both of them can be something special.”
Dunleavy is hoping to keep the Wave’s home record (7-0) unblemished when it hosts Tulsa on Sunday.
“I heard back in the 1990s that fans would line up for tickets outside for the games,” said Dunleavy. “I have sons that were at Duke and Villanova, and we want to create that type of environment.”