No. 19 SMU looks to stay hot versus Tulane

Teams heading in opposite directions collide when Tulane visits No. 19 SMU on Wednesday night.

SMU (22-4, 12-1 American Athletic Conference) is coming off a momentous 60-51 victory over No. 18 Cincinnati on Sunday. The win put the Mustangs in first place in the AAC by a half-game.

SMU’s win also avenged a 66-64 loss at Cincinnati last month, the Mustangs’ only stumble since November.

“Pretty good run,” SMU coach Tim Jankovich said Tuesday. “Things have gone great. But I’m also looking forward and seeing lot of challenges. Wednesday night, the challenge is to try to get Sunday off of our minds.”

Tulane (4-20, 1-11 AAC) is also trying to forget its last game. The Green Wave had a week to stew about a 91-62 loss to Houston, which represented Tulane’s eighth loss in a row and 13th in its last 14 games.

The Green Wave trailed 21-19 deep into the first half when the bottom fell out.

“We took a real step back tonight,” Tulane coach Mike Dunleavy told The New Orleans Advocate. “For the first 14 minutes, we were doing what we needed to do, and then we just caved.”

Five Green Wave players scored in double figures in the loss, led by forward Cameron Reynolds’ 13 points and six rebounds. However, Tulane was outscored 36-16 in the paint and gave up 27 points off turnovers.

“We hung our heads — everyone, including me,” Reynolds told The Advocate. “As one of the leaders on the team, I have to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

SMU used only six players against Cincinnati. Without reserve guard Dashawn McDowell, who is still day-to-day with a concussion, the six Mustangs overcame a nine-point deficit while holding Cincinnati to 26 percent shooting in the second half.

“We’ve got some really tough individuals on this team,” SMU guard Shake Milton said. “You can come to one of our practices and just see how competitive it is. Nobody wants to lose. We just have a tough team all-around.”

One of the toughest is 6-7 forward Semi Ojeleye, who has the bulk to score inside and the soft touch to bury a trio of 3-pointers in the win over Cincinnati. Ojeleye was named the AAC Player of the Week after scoring 18 on Sunday and 30 in a win at Temple.

“He’s a huge piece to the puzzle,” Jankovich said. “He’s a tough matchup, but we have a lot of guys I think are tough matchup problems. The beauty of our team from an offensive standpoint is you don’t know where the fire might break out.”