Lanier named SMU’s coach after NCAA tourney with Georgia State

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DALLAS – SMU named Rob Lanier as its coach on Sunday after he took Georgia State to the NCAA Tournament this season.

Lanier was 53-30 in his three seasons at Georgia State. He previously took Siena to the NCAA tourney in 2002, in the first of his four seasons as coach there. In between those head coaching stints, Lanier was an assistant at Tennessee, Texas, Florida and Virginia.

Tim Jankovich announced his retirement Tuesday after six seasons as SMU’s coach and a coaching career of nearly four decades that included stints as an assistant for Larry Brown and Bill Self.

Before going to Georgia State, the 53-year-old Lanier spent eight seasons as associate head coach to Rick Barnes, four at Tennessee after four at Texas. That came after four seasons as an assistant to Billy Donovan at Florida.

“Rob is an excellent coach and has been mentored by some of the game’s best in Rick Barnes and Billy Donovan. He and his staff will build upon the success our program has experienced under coach Brown and coach Jankovich,” SMU athletic director Rick Hart said.

SMU was 24-9 this season, which ended in the second round of the NIT with a 75-63 loss to Washington State that was its only home defeat this season.

The Mustangs were left out of the 68-team NCAA field despite finishing second in the American Athletic Conference regular-season standings, behind Elite Eight team Houston and ahead of NCAA tourney team Memphis. SMU beat Houston once and swept its two regular-season games against Memphis before losing to the Tigers in the AAC Tournament semifinals.

Lanier played at St. Bonaventure from 1986-90, then was a graduate assistant at Niagara before his first full-time assistant coaching job at his alma mater. He also was an assistant at Rutgers.

Georgia State was 18-12 this season and made the NCAA tourney as the Sun Belt Conference champion. The Panthers lost in the first round to No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga.

“I couldn’t be more honored to lead the program on the Hilltop,” Lanier said. “SMU’s location in the heart of Dallas, Texas, the beautiful campus, stellar academic reputation and overall commitment to excellence make it the perfect fit for me and my family. I’m excited to get to work and to take this program to the next level.”

Lanier is a cousin of eight-time NBA All-Star Bob Lanier, a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

SMU rallies from 15 points down to stun No. 6 Houston 85-83

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DALLAS — Kendric Davis scored 22 points and Marcus Weathers added 20 as SMU rallied from a 15-point second half deficit to stun No. 6 Houston 85-83 on Wednesday night.

Davis sank two free throws with 40.6 seconds remaining to break an 81-all tie. Michael Weathers hit the second of two free throws with 24.1 seconds left for a three-point lead. Houston had a chance to tie in the closing seconds when Kyler Edwards heaved the ball toward the basket from near midcourt with two seconds left and was fouled by Emmanuel Bandoumel.

Edwards hit the first free throw but missed the second. Edwards banged his third shot off the front rim and Houston was called for a lane violation.

Michael Weathers added 17 points, including 14 in the second half, for the Mustangs (17-7, 8-2 American Athletic Conference), who moved within a game of first-place Houston (20-3, 9-1). SMU is 12-0 at home this season.

Edwards, Taze Moore and Josh Carlton scored 17 points each for the Cougars, whose 12-game winning streak ended.

Houston entered play leading NCAA Division I in field goal defense, yielding opponents only 36% per game, and was third in scoring defense at 56.6 points allowed per game. SMU passed that scoring total with 11 minutes to play and shot 46.4%. The Mustangs made 12 of 23 3-pointers for 52%.


Houston: The Cougars can’t afford anymore missteps if they want to contend for a possible No. 1 regional seed in the NCAA Tournament. Their losses this season have been by two points to Wisconsin in late November, one to Alabama in early December and two at SMU.

SMU: The Mustangs avoided their first losing streak since late November. They appear headed for a second consecutive NIT appearance.


Houston: Hosts Memphis on Saturday.

SMU: At East Carolina on Saturday.

Sasser, No. 6 Houston beat SMU 70-48 for 8th straight win

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HOUSTON — Marcus Sasser scored 19 points and No. 6 Houston beat SMU 70-48 on Sunday for its eighth straight win.

Sasser bounced back to make five of his last 10 shots. After scoring just three points in a victory over Tulane on Thursday, he opened 0 for 5 against the Mustangs.

“My teammates kept telling me every time I went to the bench, `Keep shooting the ball,”‘ Sasser said. “Coach (Kelvin Sampson) tells me all the time he doesn’t care how many I miss, just keep shooting. Even when I am off to a bad start like that, I keep shooting and gaining confidence because my teammates put that confidence in me even though I miss.”

Justin Gorham had nine points and 17 rebounds for Houston (15-1, 10-1 American Athletic Conference), which won its 20th consecutive home game. Reggie Chaney added 10 points.

The Cougars won despite shooting only 34%.

“I thought our offense was great the first half, we just weren’t making open shots,” Sampson said. “Look at how many open shots we missed, look at how many shots around the rim we were missing. I told our guys, `Don’t worry about that, you’ll make them.”‘

Houston outrebounded SMU 45-33 and committed 10 turnovers.

“Our defense has been getting better,” Sampson said. “There are three core tenets of our program – our defense, our rebounding and taking care of the ball. I thought we were outstanding in all three areas.”

Kendric Davis led SMU (9-4, 5-4) with 11 points. Feron Hunt and Yor Anei each scored 10 points for the Mustangs, who made 32% percent of their shots.

“I thought in the first half we played incredibly hard, boxed out, kept them off the glass,” SMU assistant coach Yaphett King said. “We did battle with them, but in the second half, they kept coming, kept coming. We didn’t match that intensity, which I wish we would have because I think if we could have hung in there, some shots would have started to fall, and we would have gotten some confidence from it.”

Houston led 28-24 at halftime, then went on a 14-3 run, capped by Gorham’s three-point play with 16 minutes left.


SMU: Coach Tim Jankovich missed his fourth straight game due to COVID-19 after first feeling symptoms on Jan. 21 and testing positive four days later. The Mustangs missed all eight 3-pointers they tried in the second half.

Houston: Gorham became the first Cougars player with eight straight double-digit rebounding games since Tim Moore did it eight games in a row during the 1995-96 season. Quentin Grimes, who entered averaging a team-high 17.6 points per game, finished with six points and six rebounds, snapping a streak of 13 straight double-figure scoring games.

“Rebounding is heart, and nobody’s heart is bigger than Justin’s,” Sampson said. “Justin has gotten better. He has fully embraced rebounding. It couldn’t have been a better match.”


Hunt’s layup just over two minutes into the game put SMU ahead 2-0 – it was the first time the Cougars were behind in over 189 minutes. Before Sunday, the Cougars last trailed with 13:02 remaining in the first half against Tulane on Jan. 9, a span stretching almost five games.


SMU: Plays at Tulsa on Wednesday.

Houston: Plays at East Carolina on Wednesday.

No. 5 Houston rebounds from 1st loss with 74-60 win at SMU

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DALLAS — Houston coach Kelvin Sampson spent a lot of time at halftime talking to his team about rebounding and being aggressive. The No. 5 Cougars responded.

“The second half, I just liked our execution, I liked the ball movement and I liked our rebounding,” Sampson said. “We looked like a Houston basketball team.”

Quentin Grimes hit a go-ahead 3-pointer to ignite a 10-0 run to start the second half, and the Cougars rebounded from their first loss with a 74-60 victory over previously undefeated SMU on Sunday night.

The Cougars (8-1, 3-1 American) had 28 of their 45 rebounds after halftime, with 11 offensive boards and 15 second-chance points after the break. Justin Gorham had 13 of his 19 rebounds in that span.

“One of the hallmarks of this team is you stay on the attack, especially on the road,” Sampson said. “We scored 21 points (overall) on second-chance points. That’s who we are.”

SMU coach Tim Jankovich said he was disappointed after spending so much time before the game emphasizing to his Mustangs (6-1, 2-1) how well Houston rebounded.

“That’s the reason we lost. It wasn’t for no other reason,” said Kendric Davis, SMU’s top scorer with 23 points. “We guarded the first shot great. They just got too many offensive rebounds.”

That 3-pointer by Grimes from the top of the key to put Houston ahead to stay on the first shot after halftime and Justin Gorham then made a 3. Grimes also had a layup and two free throws in that game-turning run in just over 2 1/2 minutes.

Marcus Sasser led Houston with 17 points. DeJon Jarreau scored 15 points, while Gorham and Grimes had 11 points.

Feron Hunt had 12 points and 12 rebounds for SMU, and Ethan Chargois scored 10 points.

Grimes, Houston’s leading scorer at 18.5 points a game and second in the AAC only to Davis’ 19.2 coming in, was scoreless with only one shot before halftime, when he played only eight minutes after two early fouls.


SMU had its largest lead after Chargois followed his missed 3-pointer with assists on back-to-back baskets that made it 30-25 with 2:39 left in the first half, though they led by only one at the break.

Hunt rebounded the missed 3, got the ball back to Chargois up top for his quick pass to Davis, who hit a tiebreaking 3. Chargois then had a steal, but instead of going all the way to score, he did an underhand scoop to bank the ball off the backboard to Hunt for an emphatic dunk.


Yor Anei, the transfer forward from Oklahoma State playing only his third game for SMU, had a bad pass with about 3 1/2 minutes left in the first half. Jamal Shead stole the ball and fed an alley-oop pass to Gorham, but he was fouled hard by Anei when going up for the shot. The two big men were tangled up after coming down hard on the floor. Jarreau elbowed Anei after he got up, and there was some other shoves. Jarreau and SMU’s Darius McNeill were both assessed technical fouls.


Houston sophomore guard Caleb Mills has stepped away from the program for personal reasons. Mills had been limited to four games because of COVID-19 and an ankle injury. Asked if Mills would play again this season, Sampson said he didn’t know.

“I care more about Caleb than I do whether he plays or not. … That’s irrelevant to me in the big picture. I want him to be comfortable,” the coach said. “Between COVID and his injuries, he’s just had a lot of stuff going on.”


Houston: The Cougars are one-tenth of a second from still being undefeated. They lost Tuesday night on the road when Tulsa made two free throws with 0.1 left.

SMU: The Mustangs had been 4-0 at home this season, and had won 19 of their previous 21 at Moody Coliseum.


When the Cougars moved up to No. 5 last week, it was their highest ranking since the Phi Slama Jama days with Hakeem Olajuwon when they were No. 5 in the final poll of 1983-84, the same season they lost to Georgetown in the national championship game. With three Top 10 teams losing games Saturday, including No. 3 Kansas, Houston may not fall too far – if at all – after coming back with a win over an SMU team that had been undefeated.


Houston plays five of its next six games at home, starting Wednesday night against Wichita State.

SMU plays the second of three home games in a row Thursday against Cincinnati.

SMU women’s basketball ends season

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The SMU women’s basketball team has decided not to play the remainder of its 2020-21 season, with players opting out because of health and safety concerns surrounding COVID-19.

The school said in a statement that while the players agreed that all possible steps and precautions had been taken to keep them healthy and safe, they decided “that the totality of the circumstances was resulting in an in-season experience that they did not wish to prolong.”

Athletic director Rick Hart said it was a difficult decision for the players to make, and that the school supported them.

The women’s basketball team was 0-6 overall after losing its first two American Athletic Conference games.

Other SMU programs will continue to compete as scheduled.

No. 14 Texas Tech routs Sam Houston St to improve to 2-0

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LUBBOCK, Texas — Mac McClung is already doing for No. 14 Texas Tech exactly what he told coach Chris Beard he would after transferring from Georgetown.

McClung had 18 points to again lead the Red Raiders in scoring as they improved to 2-0 with an 84-52 victory over Sam Houston State on Friday.

“No surprises with Mac, He’s delivered,” Beard said.

“We knew what we were getting into when Mac was coming, he’s a scoring guard,” said Terrence Shannon Jr., one of Tech’s returning players. “He’s doing well out there right now. … We’re happy for him scoring the ball well.”

Marcus Santos-Silva, a graduate transfer, had 12 points and nine rebounds in 19 minutes to just miss out on another double-double. He is the only Texas Tech senior after starting all 64 games for VCU the past two seasons. Shannon had 10 points as the Red Raiders shot 50% percent from the field (26 of 52) and led by as many as 38 points.

McClung, the leading scorer for the Hoyas last season, has 38 points in 41 minutes of action in his first two games for the Red Raiders. The 6-foot-2 junior guard is 13-of-21 shooting, including 4 of 6 on 3-pointers. In the first eight minutes against Sam Houston State, he had two 3-pointers among 10 points as Tech already had a 20-4 lead.

“Mac’s playing the game the right way. He’s not forcing anything. He’s trusting the offense, he’s trusting his teammates. He’s trusting himself,” Beard said. “He came in here is a guy that has an edge second to none. … He’s the ultimate competitor, but also an unbelievable teammate.”

McClung scored 20 points in a 101-58 win over Northwestern State in his Tech debut, when Santos-Silva had 10 points and 13 rebounds while playing 18 minutes in that game Wednesday.

Zach Nutall had 14 points to lead three players in double figures for Sam Houston State (0-2), which shot only 31% from the field (17 of 54). Demarkus Lampley added 12 points and Bryce Monroe had 11.

“I thought we were a little intimidated and I thought their defense was so good that it took us out of what we wanted to do, and it took Zach out of the game, which I knew that was what they were going to try to do,” coach Jason Hooten said. “We’re not good enough yet when someone plays like that to figure out that second or third option, or take advantage of something they’re not doing.”

Nutall was coming off a 36-point game in the Bearkats’ season-opening 97-67 loss at SMU two nights earlier, when he was 12-of-23 shooting and had six 3-pointers. But he missed all six of his field-goal tries and had only four free throws at halftime against Texas Tech, where he finished 5-of-17 shooting overall and was 0 of 3 on 3s.

Sam Houston State’s roster has nine newcomers, five junior college transfers and four freshmen, and had pauses during preseason practice because of COVID-19 issues. Nutall, a junior guard, is the only of four returning lettermen with more than one letter.


Sam Houston State: Hooten called three timeouts in the first 10 1/2 minutes of the game, the third when the Bearkats were already down 18 and Nutall had missed his first five shots.

“I really was disappointed in the start. I still think we’ve got a few guys with the deer in the headlights look,” Hooten said. “I just think we’ll be better. We’ll be better for it.”

Texas Tech: Texas Tech has three transfers among their seven newcomers in McClung, Santos-Silva and sophomore guard Jamarius Burton from Wichita State. Burton had eight points and three rebounds. … The Red Raiders are 62-9 at home under Beard, who is in his fifth season with the Red Raiders.


After two lopsided wins, their third game in five days will be more of a test when the Red Raiders play No. 17 Houston on Sunday, before playing St. John’s.

“These two games, we’re going to learn a lot about our team through the great competition,” Beard said. “There’s an unselfishness and a flow to our team right now. It’s fun to watch.”


Sam Houston State: Plays Boise State on Sunday at Dickie’s Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.

Texas Tech: Plays No. 17 Houston on Sunday, also at Dickie’s Arena.