How it Happened
SMU overcame another large first half deficit to notch a win against a good opponent. The team got off to another poor start in this game, trailing 24-11 with under eight minutes to go in the first half. The Mustangs went on a 15-2 run to tie the game up, before Houston scored four straight to close out the half. SMU's run was fueled by zone defense that flustered the Cougars. SMU was an uncharacteristic 1-11 from deep in the first half and Sterling Brown was 1-11 from the field in the first half. SMU took the lead in the second half on a corner three by Ben Emelogu. It held the lead for most of the second half before Rob Gray, the conference's leading scorer, drained a three to tie it with 5:50 remaining. From there, SMU outplayed the Cougars. The Ponies scored efficiently down the stretch and shot their free throws well. After his ice-cold start, Sterling Brown made some big shots in crunch time.
What it Means
SMU battled back from another slow start to beat a talented team, showing great resiliency. This game is as challenging a conference game as SMU will play, for any opponent that is not the Cincinnati Bearcats. Houston is third in the conference, and 37th in KenPom. They have two legitimate offensive weapons in Gray and Damyean Dotson. This was SMU's best chance for a signature win in the regular season, and they got it.
Player of the Game
Ben Moore. When SMU struggled to put up points in the first half, Moore was keeping them in it. He made timely buckets and battled with Houston's giant Kyle Meyer on the glass. Moore had a versatile scoring night offensively, making mid-range jumpers, floaters, dunks and free throws. He did a good job of limiting Houston's giant center Kyle Meyer, holding him to two points and four rebounds. Moore finished with a 18-point, 13-rebound, double-double.
Dashawn McDowell did not play again, marking the fourth straight game he's missed.
SMU plays at UConn next Saturday at 11 a.m. CT.