Tulane (7-2) hasn’t had a winning record in their conference in a decade. Mike Dunleavy took over the team last season and certainly didn’t threaten to change that streak, going 6-24 (3-15). But now in year two he has more players, they understand his system, and they’ve been playing solid basketball.
Tulane was in the same holiday tournament with Florida State, and they played Colorado State and Fordham. They destroyed Colorado State 80-53 in perhaps their best game of the season.
Melvin Frazier looks like a candidate for most improved player of the year. The 6-6 junior has scored 18.8 ppg by knocking down 69% of his 2s (up from 55%), and 40% of his 3s (up from 26%).
Last year’s star Cameron Reynolds is steady again, scoring 16.9 ppg. He can be a matchup problem as he’s 6-8 and shoots 45% from deep.
Samir Sehic - a 6-9 transfer from Vanderbilt - comes off the bench to score 12.4 ppg and grab 7.4 rebounds. He’s from the Jarquez Smith school of stretch-4s, in that his perimeter game was more developed than his post game.
UNLV transfer Jordan Cornish gives them more size on the wing at 6-6, and scores 10.4 per game, while 6-5 sophomore Ray Ona Embo is the designated sharpshooter, knocking down 47% of his 3s on his way to 9.6 per game.
They have great size, and are a good shooting team (40% from deep), but their offense is somewhat limited by being just average at rebounding and taking care of the ball.
Defensively, they don’t force many turnovers.
This is where FSU will have to dominate the game. Tulane is mostly one-and-done when they shoot, and they don’t gain possessions through the turnover battle. Florida State, meanwhile, is the 6th best offensive rebounding team in the nation (out of 351 teams), and 45th forcing turnovers. These hidden possessions add up.
The game tips at noon Sunday, from Amalie Arena in Tampa, and will be broadcast on ESPNU.