Matt Visinsky

Rapid Reaction | SMU falls at Cincinnati, 66-64

SMU dropped its first conference game of the year and snapped its 10-game win streak in a 66-64 loss at Cincinnati Thursday night.

How it Happened

A missed 3-pointer may never go further in the basket before rimming out.

Sterling Brown's 3-point attempt with seven seconds left and SMU down by two rimmed out, and Ben Moore missed the put-back opportunity with four second left as SMU lost to Cincinnati 66-64.

SMU and Cincinnati games are usually defensive struggles. The final score might suggest another, but an offensive spurt gave Cincy the lead it never relinquished. The Bearcats used a 16-0 first-half run to built a lead that was as high as 15, starting 10-of-18 from the field and 6-of-9 from 3. SMU put up 37 points in the second half, but couldn't string together enough stops to take a lead in the second half.

The Bearcats made 12 3-pointers in total, and SMU looked confused playing too far off Cincinnati's shooters, especially Kevin Johnson and Troy Caupain, giving them space to step into a shot. Caupain went 5-for-8 from deep. Sterling Brown kept SMU in the game in the first half, scoring 13 of SMU's 27 first-half points. Semi Ojeleye, SMU's leading scorer, had zero field goals in the first half. He was frequently defended by reigning AAC defensive player of the year Gary Clark. 

SMU never led in the second half, but came within two of Cincinnati when Jarrey Foster made a 3 with 8:44 left, but the Bearcats rattled off five quick points, including a Caupain 3. Ojeleye made a 3 that pulled SMU within two, 61-59 with 5:28 to go, but Jarrey Foster missed a layup for the tie on the next possession. Jarron Cumberland made a 3-pointer a minute later.

What it Means

SMU's important defense was a big part in its 10-game win streak, but the Mustangs couldn't get a stop when they needed one. They allowed Cincinnati's shooters too much space in the first half and gave up a basket right after they brought the deficit to within one possession in the second half. The Mustangs should feel good about their offensive against a tough team in an arena where they usually struggle, but had too many defensive breakdowns to pull out a win.

Player of the Game

Sterling Brown. Where would SMU have been without its senior? Brown scored a game-high 20 points and was SMU's only effective scorer in the first half. He shot 4-for-6 from 3 and also had 11 rebounds, three steals and three assists.

Side Note

SMU's 64 points were the most the Mustangs scored vs. Cincinnati since a 76-55 win on Feb. 8, 2014. It's also the first time SMU has topped 60 points at Fifth-Third Arena since joining the AAC, but SMU has still not won there in four tries since the conference formed.

What's Next

 SMU will stay on the road when it plays 4-12 Tulane at 5 p.m. Sunday in New Orleans.

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