No. 13 SMU rebounds from 1st loss by beating Memphis 80-68
DALLAS (AP) SMU coach Larry Brown was happy with what he saw from his players before halftime. After that, not so much.
Still, the opening surge was more than enough for the No. 13 Mustangs to rebound from their first loss of the season. They led for all but 38 seconds in an 80-68 victory over Memphis on Saturday night.
''The first half we were great. We defended, we rebounded, shared the ball, got to the free throw line. It was one of our better halves of the season,'' Brown said. ''We didn't play with a lot of discipline in the second half, so I'm not a happy camper right now.''
SMU (19-1, 8-1 AAC) was the last Division I team to lose this season, falling 89-80 to Temple in a snow-delayed game last Sunday. That ended an 18-game winning streak that was its longest since 20 in a row during the school's only Final Four season 60 years ago.
Nic Moore, who didn't practice all week after banging his head and shoulder at Temple, scored 22 points for SMU. Freshman guard Shake Milton added 15, and said the Mustangs didn't feel much different going into their first game after a loss.
''Not really,'' Milton explained. ''We take each game the same, and try to get better.''
That clearly was Brown's message as well.
While the Mustangs are banned from postseason play this season because of NCAA penalties, they can win their second consecutive American Athletic Conference regular-season title. With 10 games left, they are still within reach of breaking the school record of 28 victories.
''You don't like as a coach to sit up here and you win a game, and you're not happy. I want us to celebrate wins,'' Brown said. ''We have one goal right now, to try to win a conference championship.''
After building a 39-27 halftime lead, SMU got its first points in the second half on a 3-pointer by Jordan Tolbert off an inbounds pass to beat the shot clock. It was only the second 3 this season for the 6-foot-7 Tolbert.
Consecutive 3s by Moore made it 53-32, and the Mustangs had matched their largest lead after Milton's alley-oop pass to Tolbert for a dunk with 11 1/2 minutes left made it 64-39.
''Early on, we played on our heels,'' Memphis coach Josh Pastner said. ''We just dug ourselves a hole we couldn't overcome.''
Especially when leading scorer Shaq Goodwin fouled out with 6:28 left.
Goodwin scored 18 points to lead Memphis (13-8, 4-4), four nights after his career-high 35 marked the highest-scoring game in the conference this season. Jeremiah Martin had 11 points, and Ricky Tarrant Jr. and Avery Woodson each scored 10. Dedric Lawson grabbed 13 rebounds.
Ben Moore and Sterling Brown each had 12 points for SMU. Tolbert grabbed 14 rebounds, and Markus Kennedy had nine points with 10 rebounds.
While their Hall of Fame coach never got caught up in talk about going undefeated, several SMU players had openly discussed the goal of winning every game they played. The last team to finish undefeated was Indiana in 1976.
Now the Mustangs are trying to win 29 out of 30 before their season ends on the first Sunday in March, a week before the NCAA Tournament field is revealed.
''Coach just emphasized how important it was that we come out and play well after a loss,'' Tolbert said. ''And we capitalized.''
Memphis led only after Goodwin's jumper made it 2-1 with 18:33 to go in the first half. SMU went ahead after two free throws by Sterling Brown with 17:55 left, followed by Nic Moore driving the length of the court and the senior point guard making a few nifty moves before hitting a layup.
Memphis: The Tigers have lost three of four, their worst stretch of the season. ... Memphis leads the series 12-7 despite losing the last three games. ... Goodwin and Tarrant fouled out.
SMU: The Mustangs are 12-0 at home this season, and 46-3 since the start of the 2013-14 season. ... The 14 rebounds by Tolbert were the most he's had in a conference game, in his first three seasons with Texas Tech in the Big 12 or his senior year at SMU.
Memphis hosts Connecticut on Thursday night.
SMU plays at Houston on Monday night.