Led by senior guard Derek Williams, SMU pulled out the 66-48 victory over Tulane. Although Coach Doherty later said, "I don't think we played great" in his postgame press conference, SMU played almost a rather flawless game, besides the number of turnovers they committed. The victory bumps their record to 11-11 (4-4) as they currently sit in seventh place in the C-USA.
Derek Williams continued his stellar performance this season, dropping 18 points along with five assists. His one flaw appeared in the number of turnovers he committed. His seven turnovers didn't cost SMU in this game, but if this occurred against a tougher opponent, such as Memphis or UTEP, the Mustangs would have been in trouble. Besides today's struggle with protecting the rock, Williams had previously committed five or more turnovers twice this season, with both games resulting in a loss for SMU. The bulk of his turnovers were dealt in the second half, in fact, he only committed one turnover in the first half, which gives him a total of six in the second half.
Although Williams was the main turnover victim, the entire SMU team had at least one turnover a piece. The final count for SMU turnovers was 20, with seven of them coming from the hands of Derek Williams. Tulane did capitalize off of SMU's mistakes, putting up 30 points off of their turnovers, but luckily for the Mustangs, it wasn't enough to give Tulane the victory.
On a positive note, Papa Dia racked up yet another double-double, which gives him seven this season. He put up an impressive total of 17 points, and while doing so, managed to haul in 16 rebounds. Dia surpassed his season high in rebounds today, which previously was 14 against Memphis and Army. The rise of Dia as of late has given the Mustangs a potent offensive weapon, as well as an intimidator down low. He nearly completed his double-double in the first half, going for nine points with eight rebounds.
The absence of Paul McCoy didn't appear to affect the Mustangs at all. Sophomore Justin Haynes had a solid outing against Tulane. Although he didn't dominate a particular statistical category, Haynes was able to put up consistent numbers in all of the major statistical areas. He posted just three points, but had four rebounds, three steals, and five assists. His measly amount of points was overshadowed by his great defensive play, as well as his ability to spread the wealth to his teammates in scoring chances.
Robert Nyankundi continued his up-and-down season once again – this time delivering a great performance for SMU. He was third on the team in points with 14, and went two for five from beyond the arc. In addition to his solid points outage, Nyankundi chipped in with six rebounds and three steals.
In what has become a vacillating season for the sophomore, his great performance will hopefully carry into SMU's next game, which has been a rarity for Nyakundi so far – having no consistency up to this point in the season.
For Tulane, they witnessed their top scorer, Kris Richard, struggle against the tenacious defense of SMU. His 5 points today ranks among the worst performances this season, and will lower his current average of 13.5 points per game. In his previous six games, Richard averaged 16 points a night, but couldn't continue his dominance against SMU. Tulane, as a whole, shot 30.6% from the field, while SMU was just under 50%.
SMU will get set to take revenge on UTEP this Wednesday. In their first meeting, UTEP came out on top in late game fashion, defeating SMU 49-45. Both teams shot poorly that game, and Derek Williams was the lone Mustang in double figures for points.