Tulane has lost its leading scorer, but it hasn't thrown in the towel.
The Green Wave will be without junior guard Kendall Timmons, who was averaging 13.6 points a game, for the remainder of the season. He underwent surgery on a torn Achilles tendon.
Yet Tulane continues to be competitive inside Conference USA and finally notched its first conference win Jan. 21 when it beat visiting Texas-El Paso 66-58. The Green Wave had lost its first four C-USA games by a combined total of 18 points.
The win raised Tulane's record to 13-6 overall and 1-4 in the conference. It also put an end to the Green Wave's four-game losing streak.
While it's hard to imagine Tulane seriously contending for the conference title, the Green Wave does possess enough young talent to be a spoiler with players like freshman point guard Ricky Tarrant and sophomore forward Josh Davis.
--Tulane's 66-58 victory over Texas-El Paso on Jan. 21 not only marked the Green Wave's first Conference USA victory of the season but it also matched its scoring high in a conference game this year. Tulane had averaged just 58.0 points a game in its first five conference games through the win over UTEP.
Offense is even more of a concern now that junior G Kendall Timmons is lost for the season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon. He was averaging a team-leading 13.6 points through 16 games.
Timmons was injured Jan. 7 in an overtime loss to Southern Mississippi, and the injury was originally diagnosed as a high ankle sprain. However, an MRI revealed a tear in the Achilles.
"This is obviously a big blow to this team, as Kendall is unquestionably one of the top players in our league," Tulane coach Ed Conroy said.
Timmons can request a medical hardship year from the NCAA after next season. If the request is granted, Timmons would be given a fifth year of eligibility for the 2013-14 season.
So how does Tulane compensate for the loss of Timmons and sophomore C Tomas Bruha, who averaged 7.2 points in the Green Wave's first nine games before sitting out the next 10 with a knee?
"I think it was one of the things we needed to improve on as a team with Kendall and with Tomas, and now it brings it even more into focus is that we have to become a better-executing team," Conroy said. "Young guys sometimes don't know spacing and how important screening is, how important delivering the ball on time is. That was a problem with Kendall and Tomas, was trying to find that mesh and chemistry. Now without those two, there is even more of necessity to become a great execution team."
KEY MATCHUP: Senior F Robert Nyakundi was averaging 14.8 points and 5.2 assists a game for SMU through Jan. 22, and junior G London Giles was averaging 11.1 points and 1.1 steals a game. Tulane has lost three of its last four games against SMU.