How it Happened
SMU was in a dogfight for much of the first half with Cincinnati after taking 3:29 to score their first points of the game. SMU played tight for a lot of the first half with eight turnovers and allowing an 8-0 run that allowed the Bearcats to build an eight-point lead at that one point. SMU was able to close it to five with a Nic Moore three before the Bearcats went back up seven to close out the first half. Nic Moore started 0-for-3 before hitting a three and being SMU's second-leading scorer at the end of the first half. Markus Kennedy provided a spark with seven points and four rebounds off the bench in the first half, but also picked up three fouls and set a crucial moving screen that negated SMU's last possession of the first half. Cincinnati played a clean first half with just one turnover and took advantage of SMU's as the Bearcats got 10 points off turnovers and 12 second-chance points.
Much of SMU's problems continued to be self-inflicted wounds. SMU made a couple attempts to come back from the deficit, but couldn't get it done. Markus Kennedy fouled out in his final game after he missed a shot and then fouled a Bearcat on the floor. Cincinnati went over eight minutes at one point in the second half without a free throw, but SMU failed to take advantage enough.
SMU closed the gap to three with 1:45 to go on a Shake Milton reverse layup. Gary Clark hit a pair of free throws after that to push it back to five. SMU couldn't hit shots down the stretch when it needed to. SMU went down six after a pair of missed threes and Troy Caupain making 1-of-2 free throws. Ben Moore tipped in a missed to close it to five, but Cincinnati made free throws and iced the game.
What it Means
SMU couldn't win the only thing the Mustangs had to play for, an AAC championship. SMU's seniors go out with a loss and in truly disappointing fashion.
Player of the Game
Ben Moore: The junior finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, but did pick up four fouls. Moore did limit his turnovers with two on the day and had a couple baskets late to keep SMU in it. Overall, SMU's players didn't step up enough, but Moore made a big enough impact against a tough Bearcats defense.
Cincinnati beat SMU with just two field goals in the final 12:08. Only stat you really need to know. SMU didn't get it done with opportunities presenting themselves.
SMU goes into the offseason with a sour taste in their mouths after starting 18-0.