Terance Mann had 21 points and 10 rebounds, PJ Savoy added 14 points and No. 17 Florida State wore down a feisty and seemingly improved Tulane squad, 80-69 on Sunday night.
Tulane was buoyed by the debut of freshman Kevin Zhang, who scored 24 points, including 10 points during a mid-second-half surge that briefly pulled the Green Wave as close as 62-56.
But Christ Koumadje’s dunk sparked a 10-0 Seminoles run that included layups by Mann and Trent Forest, and FSU maintained a double-digit lead for most of the final seven minutes.
Forrest finished with 13 points and Mfiondu Kabengele scored 12 for Florida State (2-0), which shot 48.3 percent (29 of 60).
Samir Sehic scored 19 points for Tulane (0-1), but took only four shots in the second half and missed all of them.
Tulane never led by more than three but pulled in front a number of times during the first 12 minutes, thanks in large part to Sehic’s 17 first-half points.
Sehic’s layup have Tulane a 27-26 lead with 8:45 left in the opening half, but after Jordan Cornish scored with 7:33 left in the half, FSU held the Green Wave without a field goal until 16:25 remained in the second half.
Solid defense and sporadic free throws allowed Tulane to go into half time down only 39-35, but Florida State opened the second half on a 9-0 run that included Koumadje’s dunk and Savoy’s third 3 of the game to make it a 13-point game.
Tulane, which shot 44.2 percent (23 of 52), never got closer than six points after that.
Florida State: The Seminoles have yet to play this season with star forward Phil Cofer, who is out indefinitely with a foot injury. It hasn’t mattered yet, thanks largely to their depth and ability to play lock-down defense for pivotal stretches. In addition to holding Tulane without a field goal for more than a 10-minute stretch in the middle of the he game, FSU forced 18 Tulane turnovers and converted them into 20 points. That defensive showing came after limiting Florida to 37 percent shooting in a season-opening win on Tuesday.
Tulane: Tulane could not have hoped for a better debut for Zhang, who scored on everything from 3-pointers to a driving tomahawk dunk. The Green Wave delighted a packed home-opening crowd to a high-energy showing that kept the game competitive for significant stretches. That kind of showing — particularly with starting point guard Ray Ona Embo sitting out as he recovers from a knee injury — should give the Wave hope they can be more competitive in the American Athletic Conference this season.
Florida State hosts Canisius on Nov. 19
Tulane hosts Coastal Carolina on Tuesday.
Source: The Associated Press