No. 8 SMU still only undefeated after 77-73 win over Houston

Houston guard Damyean Dotson goes up for a shot between SMU's Nic Moore (11) and Shake Milton (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP

DALLAS (AP) Nic Moore scored 23 points and had some part in five consecutive SMU baskets down the stretch as the eighth-ranked Mustangs remained Division I's only undefeated team with a 77-73 victory over feisty Houston on Tuesday night.

Markus Kennedy had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and his two free throws with 5:35 left broke the game's 12th and final tie to put the Mustangs (18-0, 7-0 AAC) ahead to stay. Kennedy's tip-in a minute earlier tied the game and was part of an 8-0 spurt.

Moore, the senior point guard, then had consecutive baskets before missing two in a row – one tipped in by Sterling Brown and the other followed by Ben Moore to make it 67-64.

Damyean Dotson was on the 3-point line for a long jumper that got the Cougars (13-5, 3-3) within a point before Nic Moore's pass to Brown for a 3-pointer.

Dotson had 16 points to lead the Cougars, who lost their third straight game after a 13-2 start. Danrad Knowles had 14 points and Galen Robinson Jr. had 11.

Sterling Brown had 15 points for SMU, and Ben Moore had 10.

At 7-0 in the American, the Mustangs have their best conference start since finishing 12-0 in the Southwest Conference in 1955-56 on way to their only NCAA Final Four appearance. That was part of their school-record 20 consecutive wins that season.

Coach Larry Brown's team is ineligible for the postseason this year because of NCAA infractions. And the Mustangs are playing short-handed, with only seven scholarship players available after junior point guard Keith Frazier left the team.

Houston led for more than 15 1/2 minutes of the first half, and was up by eight after Robinson's layup with 3:02 left. But the Cougars didn't score again before halftime.

Nic Moore tied the game at 34-all with a step-back jumper after dribbling out much of the final 30 seconds of the half. That was set up by Kennedy's rebound that ended a possession when the Cougars missed two 3s and the front end of a bonus.

Moore's jumper with 2:48 left had started the half-ending run. There was also Brown's inbound bounce pass with 4 seconds on the shot clock to Shake Milton for a layup.

TIP-INS

Houston: It was the first Top 25 opponent this season for the Cougars. They are 10-44 against ranked teams since 1997. … Houston outrebounded SMU 37-32.

SMU: The Mustangs led for only 8:07 of the game. … There are always some high-flying highlights for SMU. With just under 8 minutes left in the first half, Milton had an alley-oop pass that Sterling Brown grabbed with his right hand and slammed in a single motion. … SMU made 24 free throws and 25 field goals.

UP NEXT

Houston hosts USF on Saturday.

SMU is at Temple on Saturday night.