After going winless in the American Athletic Conference in 2018-2019, Tulane already has two impressive conference wins behind first-year coach Ron Hunter and a group of veteran transfers. The Green Wave will look to get their heads above .500 in conference play when they host Central Florida on Tuesday.
For Tulane, the improved start to conference play comes on the heels of losing three of its last four non-conference games to mid-major opponents due to its defensive struggles -- the team ranks in the bottom three in the AAC in scoring defense (69 points per game), field goal percentage defense (44.9 percent) and 3-point defense (33.8 percent). The Green Wave utilizes a seven-man rotation that averages more than 19 minutes -- no other player sees more than four minutes a game -- with graduate-transfers K.J Lawson, Teshaun Hightower and Christion Thompson all in the top four in the AAC in minnutes played. The conference slate has not been nearly as kind to the Knights, who have lost their first four league games after dropping their final non-conference matchup, the first time that has happened to the school as a Division I program. During the losing streak, the Knights are averaging just 60.2 points, about 10 points shy of their season average, and are shooting just 39.2 percent from the floor and 25 percent from 3-point range.
TIME: 7 p.m. ET. TV: None
ABOUT CENTRAL FLORIDA (9-7, 0-4 AAC): Unlike Tulane, the Knights utilize depth with nine players seeing more than 15 minutes a game, headlined by junior center Collin Smith, who averages a tick under 14 points, a vast improvement from the 8.0 points he averaged in his first year on the team. Junior guard Ceasar DeJesus is the only other Knight to average double digits and has done so with efficient shooting, as his 53.5 field goal percentage is best on the team and sixth-best in the AAC. While graduate-transfer Dazon Ingram does not light up the scoreboard, he is a stat-stuffer, leading the team in rebounding (7.3) and assists (3.9), while both his assist mark and 1.9 turnover-assist ratio is fourth in the AAC.
ABOUT TULANE (10-6, 2-2): Hightower has lived up to his workhorse status and is second in the conference with 17.3 points per game, bouncing back after dropping a seven-point dud by averaging 18.7 points in the last three games on 50 percent shooting. After eight straight games in double figures to open his Green Wave career, Lawson has been wildly inconsistent with three games below eight points, though he is getting back on track with a pair of 16-point showings in his most recent outings. Guard Nic Thomas has been the most unsung of the large group of grad-transfers, though he has been effective from behind the arc, connecting on 46.2 percent of his looks, third best in the American.
1. Tulane is first in the AAC and 15th in the nation with a plus-5.1 turnover margin.
2. UCF is 8-1 against Tulane since the inception of the AAC.
3. Tulane has not lost at the Devlin Fieldhouse this season.
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.