Doherty's Message Is Clear

The message was clear by SMU head coach Matt Doherty on Saturday after the Mustangs fell to UTEP on the road. The days of SMU being happy knowing it can stay close to the top teams in Conference USA are over.

The message is clear.

The days of SMU being happy knowing it can stay close to the top teams in Conference USA are over.

After a Feb. 12 loss to UTEP, a game in which SMU had a second-half lead before faltering, especially on offense, down the stretch, coach Matt Doherty was very clear about what he took from the game.

"You know what's a good feeling? That I'm mad," Doherty said. "And I'm mad because we should have won this game at UTEP, where the last few years I was happy that we had a close effort and somewhat of a moral victory. There are no more moral victories at SMU."

The truth is SMU did seem to have every chance to beat the Miners, the league's first-place team through Feb. 12.

But repeated offensive breakdowns in the second half -- some unforced in Doherty's mind, and many caused by UTEP's top-tier defense -- led to the Miners pulling away down the stretch and snapping SMU's five-game winning streak.

The Mustangs' offensive woes included: second-leading scorer Robert Nyakundi (15.5 points per game on the season) being held to one field goal and four points, senior power forward Papa Dia scoring only one of his 18 points in the game's final 11:46, and freshman point guard Jeremiah Samarrippas following up an 11-point first half with just a one-point second half. It all amounted to a 21-point second half for SMU and a very disheartening C-USA loss to one of the league's top teams.

"I told the team there's no more moral victories at SMU.," Doherty said. "We came here to win this basketball game. I'm very disappointed that we didn't execute better down the stretch."

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