After starting the season 18-0, SMU has lost 2 of their last 3 games.
At halftime, SMU looked as if they were headed towards a record of 20-1, until Houston outplayed them in every possible way.
Despite losing, SMU still retains sole possession of first place in the American Athletic Conference. For Houston, it places them in a near five-way tie with Temple, UConn, Cincinnati, and Tulsa for second place in the conference regular season standings.
Going into last night’s game SMU averaged a rebounding margin of +11.6. However, the Cougars dominated the glass, out-rebounding SMU 41-27.
SMU’s usual rebounding machine, Jordan Tolbert, only managed four rebounds in 22 minutes.
The Mustangs had eight offensive rebounds compared to 15 for the Cougars. While SMU is ranked 3rd in the NCAA in rebounding margin, poor rebounding has caused them to struggle in the past, particularly against Houston.
An 11-point lead with 16 minutes remaining in the game was the only thing going for SMU. By the end of the game, Houston had outplayed SMU is nearly every statistical category. The Cougars went on a 21-4 run over eight minutes in the second half to take the lead and they never looked back.
In the second half, SMU shot a measly 29.6 percent while Houston shot 54.5 percent from the field. Nic Moore did Nic Moore things and tried to propel SMU back on top, but he got little help. His three pointer with 16 seconds remaining pulled the Mustangs within two, but Houston was able to capitalize at the free throw line.
Houston outscored SMU 30-26 in the paint, outscored the Mustangs on points off turnovers, fast break points, and second chance points. Most notably for Houston however might have been their bench scoring. The bench for the Cougars scored 40 points while SMU’s only managed 16.
After the game, when asked about the loss, Jordan Tolbert said, “To me, teams are more excited to play us than we are to play them. We have to get back being hungry. A lot of people are gunning for us now.”
Chances are you probably never thought you’d see the day when other teams rambunctiously celebrated beating SMU. According to the Houston Chronicle, the Cougars win was the “program’s biggest win in decades” for the university.
With a record of 19-2, SMU is still off to their best start in program history. The Mustangs’ two losses this season have both come on the road.
SMU travels to USF on February 7th. Tip-off is at 1:00 p.m.