NEW ORLEANS (AP) Markus Kennedy scored 13 points and No. 10 SMU overcame uncharacteristically poor shooting, pulling away late to remain the nation’s only unbeaten Division I team with a 60-45 victory over Tulane on Sunday.
Jordan Tolbert and Nic Moore scored 12 points each for the Mustangs (17-0, 6-0 American Athletic Conference), who shot a season-worst 40.4 percent (21 of 52) and did not take the lead for good until Ben Moore’s running floater as he was fouled made it 33-30 with 12:41 to go.
Melvin Frazier scored 11 points and Malik Morgan had 10 for Tulane (8-11, 1-5), which has lost five of its last six games.
Ben Moore finished with 11 points for SMU, which went 1 of 10 from 3-point range, but made up for it by outscoring Tulane 32-16 in the paint.
SMU committed 15 turnovers, but also was able to convert Tulane’s 20 turnovers into 21 points.
Dabney’s 3-pointer gave Tulane a 28-27 lead early in the second half, and the Wave briefly widened the lead to 30-27 soon after, when Frazier stole the ball from Brown and converted a breakaway layup.
That’s when SMU appeared to turn up its intensity and sharpen its focus.
The Mustangs scored the next eight points, highlighted by Ben Moore’s three-point play.
While SMU never trailed again, Tulane remained within single digits for most of the second half and trailed only 48-41 after Frazier’s dunk on an alley-oop pass.
The Mustangs made their first five shots to take an early 11-5 lead before missing their next 10 from the field and two free throws over the next 9:06, allowing Tulane to tie the game at 11. Having shooting struggles of its own, Tulane only managed to tie the game at 11 during that span.
Shake Milton’s short jumper finally ended the drought, but SMU continued to struggle with its shooting, never leading by more than five points while making just 11 of 27 shots and never making a free throw.
Tulane was as close as 21-19 after Frazier’s free throws. Ben Moore responded with a short jumper to make it 23-19, a score which stood until halftime.
SMU: Going back to last season, SMU had won 12 of its last 13 road games coming in, including all four this season. … SMU entered shooting 52 percent from the field, the fourth-highest percentage in the nation. … Sterling Brown, who came in shooting 73 percent for the season, went 2 of 7.
Tulane: The Green Wave had not hosted a team ranked in the top 10 in the AP poll since Feb. 20, 2008, when then-No. 1 Memphis, coached by John Calipari and led on the court by guard Derrick Rose, easily dispatched Tulane 97-71. … Reserve center Blake Paul missed two dunks and finished with no points on 0-of-4 shooting. … Tulane missed 6 of 18 free throws.
SMU: Hosts Houston on Tuesday night.
Tulane: Visits Connecticut on Tuesday night.