It isn’t very often that I write one of these after a loss- actually this is probably only the third time.
And really, during the Larry Brown era we haven’t had to deal with losses that often. The weird thing is that after this one—yes, I am disappointed—but I am not as sick as I was after either Cincinnati loss. And that is for a number of reasons.
Firstly, I think UCONN is a very good team that struggled early but has finally figured things out.
Secondly, it happens. SMU had won 21 of its last 23 games before losing to UCONN, for the very first time ever. EVER.
Sure, the programs have only squared off five times, but beating a good team every single time is not going to happen. Eventually, something has to give.
Third, the Mustangs, despite their obvious shortcomings in this game, played solid defense. UCONN just played better offense. Except for fast breaks, you really didn’t see the Huskies getting to the rim too often. No, most of the time SMU was forcing them to take jumpers deep into the shot clock. UCONN was just very good at hitting those desperation shots.
And finally, you can’t do too much about Rodney Purvis dropping a career high 28 points to out shine Ryan Boatright- who by the way scored 23 points. Oh yea, I almost forgot, Daniel Hamilton finished with 16 points, but he scored 14 of those points in the final eight minutes of the game.
You know, the coverage of this game leading into the action reminded me a lot of baseball. When the schedules line up so perfectly and you get a dream matchup of two aces going to head to head, the media eats it up. The same thing happens when you have two point guards like Nic Moore and Ryan Boatright.
Usually, one of the aces doesn’t show up or his team just doesn’t produce any offense. But even more often, it seems that the pitchers’ duel gets overshadowed by the performance of other players.
Moore certainly struggled, only finishing with nine points and five assists- however it wasn’t as if he didn’t show up at all.
And while Boatright did score 23 points, he wasn’t the superstar for the Huskies.
Purvis was insanely good, and Hamilton’s hot streak essentially won the game.
I don’t think you forgot, but incase you did, SMU lead 53-51 with 8:10 left to go. Hamilton hits back-to-back threes- giving UCONN the lead for good.
It all happened very fast, and before SMU knew what happened, UCONN had double-digit lead again. Give Larry Brown and co. credit, they stretched the final four minutes for as much as they could and the game devolved into a free-throw shooting contest- surprisingly, SMU actually did an okay job from the line. They did miss four FTs in the second half and it would have been nice to have those, but they were much better than the last couple of games.
One more spot of optimism: SMU’s full court press was extremely effective. They practice the heck out of traps every single day, but I don’t think UCONN was prepared for how good it was going to be executed.
I’ll leave you with a quote from ol’ blue eyes: “Fight, fight, fight, fight, fight it with all of our might; chances are some heavenly star-spangled night; we’ll find out as sure as we live; something’s gotta give, something’s gotta give, something’s gotta give.”
On to the next one.