SMU Mustangs drop season opener on the road

SMU head coach Matt Doherty took his team on the road to open the 2008-09 season to Florida to battle South Florida. The Mustangs came up short in their bid to win the season opener. The Mustangs lost in Tampa to USF 60-46, go inside this wire report for all the details of the game. SMU host three games next weekend in the Mustang's Tip Off Classic.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - South Florida beat SMU 60-46 in the season opener for both teams as the Bulls' Jesus Verdejo scored 18 points, 11 of which came in the second half.

The Mustangs major contributions on offense came from the new backcourt of Derek Williams and Paul McCoy. The duo combined for 23 points, with Williams scoring 13. Robert Nyakundi and Justin Haynes each scored five points giving SMU 33 points from players making their debut. Bamba Fall had four points, six rebounds and two blocks.

Verdejo scored 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to twice put the Bulls ahead by 14. The second time with 3:08 remaining. The Mustangs got within six at 43-37 when McCoy hit one of two free throws with 9:22 left in the game. A 10-2 run over the next five minutes put the game out of reach.

Dominique Jones chipped in with 13 for the Bulls. South Florida converted six of their 21 3-point attempts, four of which came from Verdejo. Alex Rivas Sanchez hit back-to-back shots to give South Florida its first lead, 18-17, with 6:44 left in the first half. The Bulls led 32-23 at the break despite missing 10 of 12 attempts from behind the arc. The Mustangs' largest lead was 6 at 8-2 with 14:11 left in the opening half.

The two teams last met in 1987, with SMU beating South Florida 87-66.

Up next for the Mustangs is the SMU Tip-Off Classic Nov. 21-22 when they face Houston Baptist, Alabama State, and Illinois State in order during the three-day event. Games are 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. each day.

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