Turnovers prove costly for No. 18 SMU in loss to No. 11 Louisville

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No. 18 SMU entered Wednesday’s game against No. 11 Louisville with an outside shot of winning the American Athletic Conference regular season title, which would have been a monumental achievement for Larry Brown’s program. But the Mustangs dropped an 84-71 decision to the Cardinals, and while Russ Smith’s 26-point night will get most of the attention (and rightfully so) turnovers proved to be just as much of an issue for SMU.

SMU, which entered the game ranked fifth in the American in turnover margin and seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio, committed 23 turnovers and finished a minus-9 in turnover margin. On multiple occasions those mistakes turned into Louisville points on the other end, as the Cardinals converted those turnovers into 25 points (SMU scored nine points off of Louisville’s 14 turnovers).

Louisville may have outscored SMU by 27 points from beyond the arc (39-12), but the extra possessions that came as a result of SMU being too loose with the basketball is what truly did the Mustangs in. Nic Moore struggled, spending an extended amount of time on the bench in the second half due to foul trouble and finished with five points (2-for-3 FG) and four turnovers. And the same can be said for Nick Russell even with the senior scoring a team-high 18 points, as he also committed eight turnovers.

Against a team the caliber of Louisville, especially considering their ability to pressure full-court, how well the guards take care of the basketball is the difference between winning and losing on most nights. Limit the turnovers and limit the Cardinals’ opportunities to get out in the open floor, thus creating offense by way of the live-ball turnover. SMU didn’t do that, resulting in a loss in their home finale.

The question moving forward is whether or not the turnovers are a major concern for SMU as they move closer to the NCAA tournament. Per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers SMU ranks eighth in the American in turnover percentage, turning the ball over on 20.1% of their possessions in conference play. That’s something that will need to be addressed, beginning with their game at Memphis on Saturday afternoon.

Defensively SMU’s been very good all season long, and that attribute is one reason why they’ve won games in spite of the turnover percentage. But while this isn’t a reason to panic, the Mustangs will need to tighten things up in that regard if they want their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1993 to consist of more than just one game.

POSTERIZED: Jaylen Brown throws down hard in transition

Albert Almanza, Jaylen Brown, Jalin Barnes
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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Jaylen Brown is a top five player in the Class of 2015 and a kid projected as a top ten pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.


Because he does things like this:

LATE NIGHT SNACKS: Denzel Valentine, the nation’s best player?

Denzel Valentine
AP Photo/Alex Gallardo
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(This will be updated throughout the day.)

GAME OF THE DAY: Syracuse 74, No. 25 Texas A&M 67

The Orange got 20 points from Michael Gbinije and 15 points and five assists from Trevor Cooney as they won the Battle 4 Atlantis title on Friday afternoon. We wrote on this game earlier. Are the Orange for real this year?


Denzel Valentine, Michigan State: 32 points, nine boards, six assists

No. 3 Michigan State beat Boise State 77-67 in the semifinals of the Wooden Legacy out in California, but the result of that game is less important than the result of Valentine’s night. A night after notching his second triple-double of the season, Valentine took over another way on Friday, hitting five straight threes in the span of about five minutes to put the Spartans up double-figures in a game they were struggling to take control of.

In three games against high-major competition, Valentine is now averaging 30.0 points, 10.7 boards and 9.3 assists. He has been, unequivocally, the best player in college basketball this season.

No. 10 Gonzaga 73, No. 17 UConn 70: Eric McClellan and Kyle Dranginis made some big plays down the stretch as the Bulldogs held on to win a game they led by as much as 21 in the second half. Kyle Wiltjer scored a team-best 17 points for Gonzaga, which finished third at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Rob Dauster wrote more about the Bulldogs and their second-half performance here.

Alabama 64, No. 20 Wichita State 60: While the Shockers’ losses to USC and Alabama don’t help them from an NCAA tournament standpoint, the bigger issue is the team’s health.

No. 17 Notre Dame 68, Iowa 62: The Fighting Irish blew a 15-point second half lead, but the comeback gassed the Hawkeyes, as Notre Dame was able to pull away down the stretch. V.J. Beachem led the way with 16 points.


Quincy Ford, Northeastern: Not only did he score 24 points in the upset win over No. 15 Miami, but he hit the game-winning jumper, too. Video here.

Cat Barber, N.C. State: Barber notched a career-high 37 points to go along with eight assists as the Wolfpack fought off a scrappy Winthrop team, 87-79. He wasn’t the best scorer on the floor, though …

Jimmy Gavin, Winthrop: Gavin finished with 38 points. Off the bench. The most incredible part? He was 5-foot-4, 90 pounds as a sophomore due to Crohn’s Disease.

John Egbunu, Florida: Egbunu finished with 17 points, 11 boards and four blocks as the Gators knocked off FGCU, 70-50. Dorian Finney-Smith added 23 points for Florida.


Wichita State’s bigs: Five of them (Anton Grady, Zach Brown, Rashard Kelly, Bush Wakumota, Eric Hamilton) finished a combined 3-for-21 from the floor with 14 points and 14 fouls. Wakumota shot one of the worst threes you’ll ever see with Wichita State down 62-60 with 10 seconds left.

Grady suffered a scary neck injury late in the game, but early reports sound positive.


  • Jamal Murray went for 21 points and three assists without a turnover at No. 1 Kentucky rolled over South Florida. The big question: How bad is Tyler Ulis’ elbow injury?
  • Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart both had 13 points as No. 8 Villanova knocked off Georgia Tech to win the Preseason NIT, 69-52.
  • No. 23 Xavier raced out of the gates against USC and led by as much as 32, going on to win 87-77 in Orlando. Trevon Bluiett led four Musketeers in double figures with 16 points and James Farr added 12 to go along with nine rebounds off the bench.
  • Troy Caupain had 17 points and Octavious Ellis added 12 points and nine boards (seven offensive) as No. 24 Cincinnati outlasted Nebraska, 65-61, at the Barclays Center.


  • Stanford finished third at the Preseason NIT with a 69-66 win over Arkansas, closing the game on a stunning 21-1 run. Rosco Allen scored eight of his career-high 25 points during that run, and Marcus Allen’s goal-tended layup with 2.6 seconds remaining gave the Cardinal the lead for good.
  • Taurean Waller-Prince had 25 points to lead Baylor to a win over Arkansas State.
  • Joey King’s 18 points paced five players in double-figures for Minnesota as they knocked off Omaha, 93-90.
  • Caris LeVert had 19 points and Derrick Walton added 13 points and seven assists as the Wolverines beat Texas in the fifth-place game in the Battle 4 Atlantis.