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The frustration is mounting with the SMU basketball program. Can they bounce back after dropping trhee straight in C-USA?


The frustration is mounting with the SMU basketball program. If falling to 0-3 in C-USA play by blowing a 24-point second-half lead and having your leading scorer miss a potential game-winning layup with one second left wasn't enough, the Mustangs had to watch UAB players pour salt in the wound on Jan. 16.

Moments after UAB's 63-62 come-from-behind win, SMU coach Matt Doherty got into a shouting match with Blazers head coach Mike Davis. Doherty felt the Blazers were a bit excessive in their post-game celebration and he wasn't shy about drawing from happier times in his career to try to make his point.

"I've been in a lot of games, big-time games," Doherty told the Dallas Morning News. "I've beat Duke at Duke, UConn when they were No. 5 in the country. To me, there's a way to handle it. When you're on the road, I don't think you rub it in people's faces."

His star player, Derek Williams, took a different approach.

"You could say that's not classy but (we) put ourselves in that situation," Williams said. "And we would probably be doing the same thing." Doing the same thing would require the Mustangs to hold on down the stretch in close games and win.

SMU's first three losses came to teams hovering around the top of the league standings -- UTEP, Tulsa and UAB -- by a combined 12 points.

"We should be used to situations like this," Williams said.


--SMU shot 54.8 percent from the floor in a Jan. 16 loss to UAB. It was the Mustangs' second-best shooting performance of the season (65.3 percent vs. North Carolina Central was the best) and the highest shooting percentage SMU has had since joining C-USA.

--SMU committed just five turnovers in a loss Jan. 13 to Tulsa, then turned around to cough it up 16 times in a loss Jan. 16 to UAB. SMU averages 13.4 turnover per game this season.

ON THE SPOT: SMU's match-up zone seems to be doing the trick most of the time, but the team still seems to be allowing too many points in the closing moments of games. Through their Jan. 16 loss, the Mustangs had held three top C-USA teams below their scoring average -- they held UTEP 27.8 points below its average, Tulsa 15.2 points below its average and UAB 6.9 points below its average. Still, the Mustangs lost each game.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We had the game. We had them beat. Right now, it just feels funny because I'm like, 'How does that happen?'" -- F Papa Dia, in the Dallas Morning News, after a Jan. 16 loss to UAB in which his team blew a 24-point second-half lead.


SEASON RECAP: SMU has to be the best winless team in C-USA. Whatever that's worth. The Mustangs have had chances to win against UTEP, UAB and Tulsa, but couldn't close out games and had lost seven on its last nine games heading into its Jan. 20 game at Rice.

PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- G Paul McCoy, G Derek Williams, G-F Justin Haynes, F Papa Dia, F Mouhammad Faye. Key Subs -- G Ryan Harp, G Rodney Clinkscales, F Frank Otis.

GAME REVIEW: SMU 78, North Carolina Central 50
Tulsa 63, SMU 56
UAB 63, SMU 62

at Rice, Wednesday, Jan. 20
vs. Houston Baptist, Saturday, Jan. 23
vs. Central Florida, Wednesday, Jan. 27
vs. Memphis, Saturday, Jan. 30
at Southern Miss, Tuesday, Feb. 2

IN FOCUS: If the Jan. 20 game at Rice doesn't do the trick, there are no excuses for the Mustangs not getting a feel-good, dominating win Jan. 23 against a Houston Baptist team that just won its third game of the season on Jan. 16. Sure it isn't a C-USA game, but right now SMU could just use some wins to rebuild its confidence.

--Senior G Derek Williams scored 10 points on Jan. 13 against Tulsa and 23 on Jan. 16 against UAB, extending his streak of double-figure scoring games to nine.

--F Frank Otis had a career-high five assists Jan. 16 against UAB.

--Sophomore F Robert Nyakundi tied a season-high 20 minutes against UAB on Jan. 16. He scored eight points.

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