SMU basketball update: Same Story
Houston Batters Turnover-Prone Mustangs, 64-49
CUSA Fans SMU Correspondent Rick Atkinson brings you his latest SMU basketball update.
DALLAS - SMU didn't get blown out early this time against Houston, but the result was an identical 15-point loss. Poor ball handling again spelled the Mustangs' doom.
"You know the story," said SMU head coach Matt Doherty. "We can't turn the ball over 21 times and give them 23 points … and expect to win."
"That was discouraging, because I thought our effort was good enough. Our guys played hard enough."
The Cougars' unrelenting defensive pressure kept the Mustangs off balance all night.
Said Houston head coach Tom Penders, "I didn't get from Columbia to Fordham to Rhode Island to Texas based on my offense."
"My teams always got after it defensively."
Oliver Lafayette led Houston (12-10, 6-3) with 20 points, on 4-8 3-point shooting. Robert Lee and Robert McKiver added 13 and 11 points, respectively. Dion Dowell had 8 boards for the Coogs.
Devon Pearson had 13 points and 9 rebounds for the Ponies. Ike Ofoegbu added 11 points. Derrick Roberts, back after a knee injury, had 8 points and 1 assist in 23 minutes.
A replay of the January 13 game at Houston appeared likely as the Coogs jumped out to a 10-2 lead. But, SMU (13-10, 2-7) crawled back in it to trail, 28-21, at the half.
The second half started with two consecutive three's by Houston and two consecutive turnovers by SMU. Bam, 34-21. Game over? Not quite.
The Mustangs made a last-gasp 10-0 run – with three's by Dez Willingham and Brian Epps – to trail, 34-31, with 16:54 remaining. But, the Coogs blew right back with 14-0 turnover-aided run for a 48-31 lead with 10 minutes to go. Ballgame.
Houston appeared to have little respect for SMU, as on a couple of occasions they ran a Globetrotter-like passing drill at the top of the key. Mostly, the Coogs were just loose, jacking up three's from all over the court. But, they were off a bit, shooting 42 percent overall, (3-10 from behind the arc in the second half), and seemed vulnerable.
The Mustangs simply could not take advantage.
Doherty decided to go with a smaller lineup against the quick, but not-huge Coogs. Donatas Rackauskas, 6-11, didn't leave the bench and 7-1 Bamba Fall only played 13 minutes.
After the game, Penders volunteered that Doherty's move may have given Houston a mental edge.
"It kind of told our kids that they didn't think they matched up with us with their best lineup," he said.
Doherty bristled a bit at Penders' assessment.
"I'll talk about my team," he said. "He can talk about his team. I think, you look at the stats, defensively we were better than we were last time. I'm the one who decides who's my best team. He can decide who's his best team."
"We've just gotta keep giving great effort and hopefully we'll have some quality wins before the season is over."
Next game: Saturday, February 10 vs. Rice, 7 p.m.
Two after that: Wednesday, February 14 @ Marshall, 6 p.m. & Saturday, February 17 vs. East Carolina, 7 p.m.
"I believe I may go watch my local high school team the rest of the season, the Sherman Bearcats. They're 25-2 and ranked in the state.
"It's the same ol' story with the Mustangs – too many turnovers and inconsistent shooting."
(Ronnie Perry has followed SMU hoops since 1957.)
SMU Basketball Notes: