Tulane Battles First-Place Memphis Tonight



Feb. 4, 2002

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The Tulane University men's basketball team returns to action this evening, playing at first-place Memphis in the Pyramid for a 7 p.m. Conference USA contest.

Memphis owns a 19-4 record, including a perfect 9-0 mark, one of just eight teams in that country that have not lost in league play yet this year. The Tigers have won nine straight games, dating back to Jan. 2.

"Memphis is playing better than any team in Conference USA right now," Green Wave head coach Shawn Finney said. "They definitely deserve to be ranked in the top 25. We will have to be very prepared for this game."

Tulane snapped a three-game skid on Saturday with a key overtime victory against Southern Miss at home. Trailing by 12 early in the second-half, the Green Wave erased the deficit, then pulled away in overtime for the victory, improving it to 12-8 overall and 4-5 in league play. In that game, junior Brandon Spann (New Orleans, La.) rimmed home an off-balance, twisting three-pointer with 0.7 seconds to go in regulation to force overtime. He added six points in the OT session, including a perfect 4-for-4 from the foul line in the final 45 seconds.

While Spann will be looked to for another strong night, he has scored in double figures for eight straight games, the key for the Green Wave may be junior big man Brandon Brown (Houma, La.). In the first meeting of the season with Memphis, a 78-70 Tiger win, Brown scored a career-high 29 points on 13-of-18 shooting from the field. He leads Tulane with 15.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

Memphis countered Brown's big night with a towering inside presence of its own. Seven-foot Earl Barron and 6-10 Kelly Wise combined for 35 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Tigers. Wise is Conference USA's all-time leader in double-doubles, but has been bothered by an injured hip of late. The senior forward played just 13 minutes in Memphis' Saturday win over TCU.

The other key for the Tigers is fabulous freshman guard Dejaun Wagner, the consensus high school player of the year last season. Wagner leads Memphis with 21.4 points per game this year. He scored 17 against the Wave earlier this year.

Tulane departs for Florida on Friday and will face South Florida on Saturday at 6 p.m. (Central). The Wave then has five days off before returning to action against UAB at home at Fogelman Arena on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 7 p.m.

Tickets for all Tulane home events are available by calling 504-861-WAVE, or by visiting the Green Wave box office at the Wilson Center.