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.

PHOTO: Ohio State’s new LeBron James shoe display

during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium on January 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.
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Ohio State has capitalized on its close relationship with NBA superstar LeBron James over the years and now has a new shoe display that should come in handy during recruiting.

The Buckeyes put out a tweet late this week with the display, calling themselves “THE LeBron school.” While this is something small, recruits like that the Buckeyes are tied into the best player in the world and it’s cool to them that Ohio State gets some exclusive gear.

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.