The Mustangs entered Wednesday's game against Tulsa as the underdogs who stood little chance of victory. The 63-56 loss wasn't as bad as most losses are. SMU showed heart in that game, and their 39 point output in the second half nearly led them to victory, but Tulsa was able to hold the pesky Ponies off for the last few minutes. So what exactly can SMU take out of this game for the remainder of the season?
This was perhaps the best defensive game of the season for SMU, who played stellar against a top Conference USA opponent. Tulsa ranks atop the leaderboards in the C-USA for most offensive statistics, and with SMU's defense not being known for shutting opponents down, many expected the Golden Hurricanes to run right through them. SMU held Tulsa to just 63 points, which is their lowest point total in any of their wins this season. The Mustangs were able to hold them off offensively because they forced 15 turnovers! That's right, 15 turnovers, which is a very high amount considering they were on the losing side of things. Papa Dia, Paul McCoy, Justin Haynes, and Frank Otis each had two steals, and Derek Williams finished with one steal. Teams who win the turnover battle usually come out on the winning end of things, but SMU didn't capitalize on Tulsa's mistakes on the opposite end, and gave away too many golden opportunities.
The 6'9" junior forward put up great numbers against Tulsa in a losing effort. The Golden Hurricane's have a few talented big men on their team, but this didn't faze Dia. He finished the game with 15 points, which was second on the team, and hauled in ten rebounds to complete the double-double, which gives him five double-double's on the year. Dia also had three blocks, which tied him with Tulsa's Jerome Jordan for the most blocks in the game. If Dia is able to perform at this level throughout C-USA play, the Mustangs will be competitive in every game.
They Nearly Proved Everyone Wrong
The seven point loss was better then what most people thought SMU would do against the more talented team in Tulsa. Though they still lost, they at least went out fighting, and just fell short of making a fantastic late comeback. SMU can carry their second half momentum they built up into their next game against UAB on Saturday. Once again, SMU will be the underdog heading into their game, as UAB is 14-2 on the season, and led by junior guard, Eilijah Millsap.