Associated Press

No. 10 SMU survives poor shooting, downs Tulane 60-45

Leave a comment

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.

TIP-INS

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.

UP NEXT

SMU: Hosts Houston on Tuesday night.

Tulane: Visits Connecticut on Tuesday night.

Big plays from Nic Moore, Jordan Tolbert keep No. 15 SMU undefeated

Associated Press
Leave a comment

After playing three seasons at Texas Tech forward Jordan Tolbert made the decision to transfer to SMU, sitting out last season with the hope that his final year of eligibility would end in the NCAA tournament. Of course that won’t be the case for Tolbert or his fellow seniors, as NCAA sanctions handed down to the SMU program include a ban from postseason play.

But the Mustangs have continued to compete, and two big plays by Tolbert on both ends of the floor helped the nation’s 15th-ranked team remain undefeated with a 59-57 win over Cincinnati.

Tolbert’s tip-in of a Nic Moore missed jumper with 28 seconds remaining gave SMU a one-point lead, and his weak side block of a Troy Caupain layup attempt preserved that advantage. SMU managed to win despite losing Sterling Brown in the first half as he was ejected for leaving the bench, with his dismissal cutting the number of available scholarship players down to six.

But even with the lack of depth and an uncharacteristically high turnover count (17), the Mustangs found a way to remain close and then overtake the Bearcats.

SMU is one of the nation’s top teams in both field goal percentage and assists, and against Cincinnati they shot 51 percent from the field and assisted on 68.2 percent of their made field goals. Moore sets the tone at the point, with his ability to get the ball to the right player in the right spot matching his ability to knock down big shots. SMU outscored Cincinnati 11-2 over the final 3:09, with Moore’s two three-pointers on consecutive possessions being especially pivotal.

Moore’s the man who will have the ball in his hands in key spots, and with teammates willing to do their part to find the “right shot” SMU is a difficult matchup for opposing defenses at any point in the game.

SMU clearly wasn’t at their best, and Brown’s ejection serves as a reminder that this group doesn’t have a large margin to work with when it comes to either foul trouble or injuries. But even with the lack of depth and the high turnover count, Larry Brown’s team found a way to win.

Tolbert’s 20 points, 19 boards lead No. 18 SMU past Hampton

Associated Press
Leave a comment

DALLAS (AP) Jordan Tolbert posted another big double-double, getting 20 points and 19 rebounds as No. 18 SMU remained unbeaten with a 105-72 romp over Hampton on Thursday night.

A night after having 18 points and 23 boards in a rout over Nicholls State, Tolbert helped the Mustangs (9-0) to their highest-scoring game since November 2010. SMU is off to its best start since going 10-0 to open the 1997-98 season.

SMU played its final game under the direction of associate head coach Tim Jankovich. Head coach Larry Brown served a nine-game suspension after the NCAA ruled in September that a former men’s basketball administrative assistant completed online course work for a student to help him be admitted to school. The Mustangs also are banned from postseason play this season, including the American Athletic Conference tournament.

Hampton (4-4) was led by Quinton Chievous and Brian Darden with 18 points each. The Pirates trailed 58-53 with 15:20 left before SMU pulled away.

LATE NIGHT SNACKS: No. 18 SMU, No. 20 West Virginia win

Associated Press
Leave a comment

GAME OF THE NIGHT: South Dakota 92, Milwaukee 91 (2OT)

Fittingly it was Wisconsin native Tre Burnette (Madison) who made the deciding play, as his floater in the finals seconds of double overtime gave the Coyotes the one-point win over the Panthers in Milwaukee. D.J. Davis and Tyler Hagerdorn scored 17 apiece to lead five USD players in double figures, while Milwaukee’s Matt Tiby led all scorers with 31 points while also grabbing 17 rebounds.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

No. 20 West Virginia 86, Marshall 68: The Mountaineers pulled away in the second half of this in-state battle, beating the Thundering Herd by 18 after leading by just three at the half. Bob Huggins’ team scored 50 second-half points, with Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles Jr. leading a balanced offensive effort with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Ryan Taylor led Marshall with 15 points, but the big news for them moving forward is the left knee injury suffered by forward James Kelly. Kelly, who finished with 11 points, left the game in the second half and was not at full strength when he returned some six minutes later.

No. 18 SMU 105, Hampton 72: Like WVU the Mustangs, playing their final game without suspended head coach Larry Brown, pulled away in the second half. SMU scored 62 points in the game’s final 20 minutes, and all six players who attempted a shot scored in double figures. Sterling Brown led all scorers with 23 points (10-for-11 FG) and Jordan Tolbert added 20 along with 19 rebounds. Larry Brown will be back on the sidelines for the 9-0 Mustangs when they host Kent State Tuesday night.

STARRED

Jordan Tolbert, SMU: Tolbert finished with 20 points and 19 rebounds in a win over Hampton.

Henry Caruso, Princeton: Caruso scored 29 points on 10-for-14 shooting from the field and grabbed nine rebounds in the Tigers’ 77-72 win over Liberty.

Matt Tiby, Milwaukee: One of the top players in the Horizon League, Tiby was highly productive in the Panthers’ one-point loss to South Dakota. He finished with 31 points and 17 rebounds.

STRUGGLED

Armel Potter, Charleston Southern: Potter shot 1-for-12 from the field in the Buccaneers’ 71-65 loss at Wright State.

Chace Franklin, Jackson State: Franklin scored eight points but did so on 3-for-15 shooting in the Tigers’ loss at Ohio.

OTHER NOTABLE RESULTS

  • Deckie Johnson racked up 26 points and four assists to lead North Texas to an 87-74 win over Mississippi Valley State. The Delta Devils dropped to 0-13 on the season as a result.
  • Middle Tennessee limited Belmont to 37.7 percent shooting from the field, winning by a final score of 83-62. Perrin Buford led the way offensively with 20 points while also grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out three assists.
  • In a matchup of struggling teams Rodney Pryor scored 20 points to lead Robert Morris to a 69-67 win over Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks played without injured junior forward Tim Kempton (right foot).
  • Ohio moved to 7-3 on the season with a 72-67 win over Jackson State. Jaaron Simmons scored 17 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Bobcats.
  • Jameel Warney scored 22 points, shooting 10-for-12 from the field, to lead Stony Brook to an 86-68 win at American.
  • D.J. Balentine became the fourth player in Evansville program history to surpass the 2,000-point mark, scoring 26 points in the Purple Aces’ 84-70 win over Norfolk State.
  • Katin Reinhardt scored 22 of his 29 points in the first half as USC beat Cal Poly, 101-82. Six Trojans scored in double figures and Julian Jacobs, who sat out their last game with tendonitis in his Achilles, dished out 13 assists.

SMU’s 2016 postseason ban is morally wrong

AP Photo
6 Comments

The punishment that the NCAA handed down to SMU stemming from the violations involving Keith Frazier’s grades are about what you would expect.

The administrative assistant that admitted to doing Frazier’s coursework to get him eligible as a freshman? She was fired and got a five-year show-cause penalty. Frazier? He was suspended for the second half of the 2014-15 season and will be the cause for the nearly 30 wins that SMU has to vacate. Not only does SMU have to vacate those wins, but they’ll spend the coming years dealing with scholarship reductions and recruiting restrictions.

And Larry Brown? He got a two-year show-cause penalty from the NCAA and will be suspended for nine games this coming season for failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance, lying to the NCAA during their investigation and failing to cop to the violations when he found out about them.

It’s all textbook, really. I’ll forever take issue with the NCAA’s arcane amateurism rules, but their entire system is built around the idea that the athletes are being compensated by the universities with an education. They have to swing the ax when that compensation gets messed with. That’s the way the system works these days.

But somehow, the NCAA still managed to get an open-and-shut case wrong.

Because the association banned the Mustangs from the 2016 postseason, which, at this point in time, is more of an injustice than the actual violations that the program committed.

That sentence is going to rile some people up — particularly the faction of fans that still believe the NCAA is something other than a facade used to bilk billions of dollars of television revenue off of the backs of hard-working athletes — but there are five words there that I wrote for a very specific reason: At. This. Point. In. Time.

Today is September 29th. SMU’s players have been enrolled in classes for more than a month. Basketball practice officially begins this Friday, October 2nd. The NCAA is handing down a punishment quite literally on the eve of the season that will cost players that had nothing to do with the violations a shot at playing in the NCAA tournament this season.

For the underclassmen, that’s a blow. For the freshmen that are getting their first taste of college basketball, that’s a tough pill to swallow.

But for the seniors on that roster?

For reigning AAC Player of the Year Nic Moore, for Markus Kennedy, for Texas Tech transfer Jordan Tolbert — who sat out last season after three years with the Red Raiders specifically for a shot at playing in the postseason — that’s like getting their heart ripped out.

So don’t get it twisted: I’m not saying that SMU shouldn’t have been hit with a postseason ban. That’s a different argument for a different day. I’m saying that the NCAA’s decision to ban SMU from the 2016 postseason on September 29th is flat out wrong and bordering on morally reprehensible.

Because the kids that are suffering the worst from this penalty had nothing to do with the actual violation.

Does that mean Moore, Kennedy and Tolbert are totally innocent here? They might not be. Fair or not, that type of speculation is warranted for any player that opts to sign with a coach that has Brown’s track record. But what the NCAA was able to prove is that an administrative assistant committed academic fraud while helping a freshman get eligible, that an assistant coach may or may not have facilitated it and that Brown was not totally truthful and forthcoming about the violations that occurred.

There’s been absolutely nothing in any media reports, in any of the material that the NCAA released and in any of the conversations I’ve had that even hints at a mention of SMU’s three seniors.

And yet, they are the ones that will lose the chance to play in their final NCAA tournament. For Tolbert, it means he’ll have wasted two years of his athletic prime on one chance at an NCAA tournament run, a chance that was snatched away from him three days before the season began.

(Please don’t tell me about how they still get to play their senior season, because doing so ignores the significance of March. If you don’t get that, you don’t understand this sport.)

SMU can apply for a waiver here, and if the NCAA is smart, they’ll grant it.

Here’s why: The goal here is to punish the coach and the program. That’s why they are banned from the tournament, that’s why they have to vacate wins and that’s why they have a myriad of recruiting restrictions and scholarship reductions.

But if the NCAA really wanted to hurt SMU’s basketball program, a postseason ban for 2016-17 instead of 2015-16 is the better option. Not only would the Mustangs lose their three seniors to graduation, they would have a number of players transfer out of the program to avoid burning a year of eligibility in a year with a postseason ban. They would get killed on the recruiting trail with the ban looming, and that’s before you consider the restrictions they’re already being forced to deal with. There’s almost zero chance that Brown would stick around through the punishment, and given that he’s now 75 years old, it would likely get him out of the NCAA’s hair for good.

Oh, and it would allow the three seniors on the SMU to be able to play out their final season on a college campus the way they should be.

The NCAA changed the rules of the game halfway through.

It’s not too late to change them back.

We all know the NCAA needs all the goodwill it can get.