SMU Defense Getting It Done

The reason many around the SMU program are starting to allow themselves to get excited about what this team is starting to do is because of the elite-level defense the Mustangs have been playing.

The reason many around the SMU program are starting to allow themselves to get excited about what this team is starting to do is because of the elite-level defense the Mustangs have been playing.

Whereas in years past excitement about the team often only led to disappointment as the Mustangs would fade down the stretch in February, this year's team is still improving from game to game.

In a Feb. 2 win over East Carolina, the Mustangs played arguably their best defensive game of not only this year, but maybe in coach Matt Doherty's five seasons running the program. At least the stats would indicate as much.

"I don't know if that's ever happened before, but I'd like to think that was in part due to our defense and home crowd," Doherty told the Dallas Morning News about the shooting woes of the Pirates in SMU's 46-41 victory. "Our defense was sensational."

East Carolina was held to 41 points, 12 field goals, a 25.5 field-goal percentage, made just six of 29 3-pointers and scored just 16 points in the second half on three field goals.

The defensive gem gave SMU its fourth consecutive victory heading into a Feb. 9 home game against struggling Tulane. After that is a Feb. 12 road test at first-place UTEP.

SMU hasn't beaten UTEP since March 1, 2008, in an overtime win that was avenged a couple weeks later by the Miners in the C-USA tournament. UTEP has won five straight over the Mustangs. If SMU fans are going to truly start thinking this is the year the postseason finally finds its way back to Dallas, a good showing against the Miners might be a must.


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