Crowd plays major role in Mustangs' win

SMU beat rival TCU 68-62 Wednesday night, ending a five-game losing streak, and the crowd, was much to thank for that. The victory gives the Mustangs some much-needed momentum as they head into their final stretch of Conference USA play.

With 17.8 seconds left and SMU up five on TCU, Mustang fans began to chant, "JUST LIKE FOOTBALL."

The Mustangs were about to beat the Horned Frogs, just like they did in football last fall in overtime in the Battle for the Iron Skillet.

SMU proved it can overthrow its rival on the field or on the court, as it snapped a five-game losing streak with a 68-62 victory Wednesday night. It was the first time SMU has beaten TCU in both football and men's basketball in the same year since 2005-06.

"This was a big stepping stone, getting over the hump for us," said senior forward Robert Nyakundi, who led all scorers with 17 points. "With the slide we've been on, it's easy to get discouraged. But everybody works hard and we stay together. Everybody is positive. This is something we can build on."

SMU shot 52.1 percent for the game and out-rebounded TCU 30-24. The Mustangs hadn't beaten an opponent on the glass in 10 games.

The Mustangs (11-13) also made key plays down the stretch.

Down by four, the Horned Frogs (13-10) took a one-point lead with about two minutes to play. London Giles drilled one of the Mustangs' 11 3-pointers to put his team on top.

Then J.R. Cadot, who led TCU with 14 points, drew a foul and appeared to tie the game back up, but the official called Hank Thorns for a lane violation, giving SMU the ball back and a one-point lead with 35 seconds on the clock.

On the other side of the court, Aliaksei Patsevich drove to the baseline and hit the layup, drawing a foul. He missed the free throw, but grabbed his own offensive rebound and was fouled again. He made the free shots this time to close up shop.

Throughout the final three wild minutes, the fans helped create the type of college basketball atmosphere this team has so desired.

"It was probably the best crowd we've had here that I can remember since one of the Memphis games a few years ago when [John] Calipari was coaching," coach Matt Doherty said. "The crowd was terrific. The students were great. That's the atmosphere you need when playing at home. You're supposed to have an advantage."

Make no mistake, this was no Allen Fieldhouse or Rupp Arena, but it was progress. The announced attendance was 3,508, but the noise and energy coming especially from the students and the band, made it feel like double that at times.

And if this is how Moody Coliseum can be for TCU, just think of what it'll be like once the place is renovated and UConn or Georgetown or Notre Dame is in town for a Big East conference game. The place has the potential to be rockin'.

"I really attribute this win to the fans, the student body," Nyakundi said. "They gave us a lot of energy. We came out fired up, ready to play."

After preaching day in and day out how hard his team has been working and not seeing it show up in the win column, Doherty was all smiles after the game.

"We deserved the breaks," he said.

Five different Mustangs hit treys and four reached double digits. Giles had 10 points and Jeremiah Samarrippas added 10, was a perfect 3 of 3 from beyond the arch, and had seven assists and three steals.

SMU also held TCU to just 37.5 percent shooting in the second half.

"I just had it in my mind from tip off, 'We're winning this game,' and that's the mentality you have to have," Nyakundi said. "It's a real testament to our perseverance throughout the season. It's easy to get down on ourselves, but it was a great job by everyone on the team to battle through it and come up with the win."

Looking forward, the Mustangs, who sit in last place at 2-7 in Conference USA, have seven league games left and must win them all to be better than 2010's 8-8 finish.

"I just hope this gives us confidence and a little momentum," Doherty said. "Hopefully we can get on a roll. Would be great."


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