Men's Basketball Has Challenge at SMU



Nov. 30, 2000

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NEW ORLEANS, La. - The Tulane University men's basketball team is back in action on Saturday, traveling to Dallas to meet Southern Methodist University in a non-league game. Game time is 2 p.m.

The Tulane game will be available live on WWL (870 AM). The broadcast is also available on the internet by visiting the official Tulane web page at www.TulaneGreenWave.com

The Green Wave, with a record of 3-2, is hoping to snap a two-game losing streak. Both losses came at the Big Island Invitational in Hawaii. The first was at the hands of Oklahoma, now ranked No. 13 in the nation, while the second was a hard-fought decision vs. Long Beach State.

"This is a very tough SMU team," Tulane head coach Shawn Finney said. "They will be very tenacious defensively. They will come out and play some hard man-to-man defense. We're looking forward to this test."

Tulane has relied on a "Big Four" thus far. Senior Ledaryl Billingsley (Chicago, Ill.), junior Linton Johnson (Chicago, Ill.), and sophomores Brandon Brown (Houma, La.) and Brandon Spann (New Orleans, La.) have all stepped up their efforts this year.

Billingsley has been an inside force, recording four double-doubles in the first five games of the year. He is averaging 14.4 points per game and leads the team and Conference USA with 11.6 rebounds per game. Johnson has become a threat from all over the court, leading the team in both dunks and three-pointers. The athletic Johnson is averaging 16.0 points per game and he leads the team and the conference in field goal percentage at .660. Brown is just behind Johnson in field-goal percentage at .617 and he is also averaging 16.0 points per outing. Both Johnson and Brown have snagged over six boards per game while scoring in double figures in every game. Spann has anchored the backcourt, seeing action at both the point and two-guard slots. He leads the team with 17.6 points per game and has scored 20 points three times.

SMU, meanwhile, enters the game with a 2-0 record, including a comeback victory over New Mexico State on Wednesday. In that game, guard Damon Hancock scored 20 points, while swingman Willie Davis hit for 19. Senior guard Jeryl Sasser is a preseason All-American and enters the game averaging an even 20.0 points per game. In the Sagarin ratings, the Mustangs are currently (through 11/27) ranked No. 19. They are "also receiving votes" in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Polls. Last year, SMU posted a 21-9 record and advanced to the NIT.

Following the SMU game, Tulane will return to Fogelman Arena, hosting Centenary at 7 p.m. on Tuesday (Dec. 5). That game will be followed by a home meeting with next-door neighbor Loyola on Saturday (Dec. 9) at 7 p.m. It will be the first meeting between the two teams since the 1971-72 season.