3 Up, 3 Down: SMU vs. Cal

We share three positives and three negatives from SMU's win to go on to the NIT Semifinals!

3 Up

1. Handling Adversity. Larry Brown has said all season that his team struggles handling adversity, but the team looked poised and mature tonight. SMU handled Cal's second half run and did a terrific job taking care of the ball tonight. For the game, the Mustangs had just 9 turnovers after only four in the first half. Meanwhile, Cal had eight turnovers and struggled handling the rowdy Moody Coliseum crowd. Nic Moore was especially clutch tonight with his game winning three-pointer and 11 points. Although he didn't shoot well, Moore had 3 assists and only 2 turnovers. It wasn't a pretty game for the Mustangs, but they managed to advance to Madison Square Garden to play Clemson.

2. Keith Frazier. SMU's freshman guard has been playing terrific lately and was great against California. He finished the game with 9 points, one assist and one rebound while playing good defense and making smart passes all night. Frazier had 8 points in the first half and made his only two three-point attempts to spark the Mustangs offense. With the crowd cheering him on, Frazier shot 3 for 6 and helped the Mustangs bench outscore the California bench by 11 points in the game. It's been an up and down season for Frazier, but tonight he was a terrific spark off the bench and showed fans that he still has plenty of potential if he keeps developing correctly.

3. Paint Play. The Mustangs dominated the Golden Bears in the paint all night on both ends of the floor. SMU out-rebounded California 35 to 22 and gathered 11 more offensive rebounds. With Richard Solomon out, California couldn't handle the Mustangs size and strength down low. Markus Kennedy finished with 19 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals while Shawn Williams added 7 and 6. The Mustangs were able to outscore California in the paint by 10 points for the game and had 16 more second chance points. SMU also set the school record for blocks in a season tonight with Cannen Cunningham's 2 swats and 3 rebounds in another solid game.

3 Down

1. Slow Start. The Mustangs have had problems starting off games the right way and it continued tonight. California started the game on a 13-4 run and looked in charge early in the first half. Justin Cobbs was 5 for 6 in the first half for 11 points and the Golden Bears shot 44 percent from the field in the period. Cobbs finished with 18 points, seven assists, and four rebounds. It took a 17-5 run from the Mustangs to end the half for them to lead heading into the locker-room at halftime.

2. Nic and Nick's shooting. Although Nic Moore hit the game winner, SMU's backcourt had a difficult night shooting against Cal. Senior Nick Russell was just 2 for 8 for 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists. Russell missed all three of his three point attempts and had 4 turnovers tonight, but his reverse layup was huge for the Mustangs. Meanwhile, sophomore point guard Nic Moore had 11 points and 3 assists on 4 for 11 shooting. Moore picked it up in the second half and both guards did a lot of good things defensively throughout the game. Moore's shot at the end showed how much the sophomore has grown and matured this season.

3. Cal's Second Half. The Golden Bears were on fire in the second half and scored 36 points on the Mustangs in the period. Cal shot 58 percent from the field in the second half after shooting 51 percent, 33 percent from three, and 100 from the free throw line for the game. They were mostly lead by Justin Cobbs, but Jabari Bird stepped up big for the Golden Bears late. He had 20 points on 8 for 13 shooting for the game. Bird had just five at halftime, but came out scorching in the second half to help bring California back. However, the Moody Coliseum crowd was just too much to handle and SMU got the win.

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