South Florida wins with last second shot

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, February 8th, 2019

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BY:  Dic Humphrey                                                                                    MEMBER:  United States Basketball Writers Association

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – The much improved South Florida Bulls extended SMU’s losing streak to three games by beating the Mustangs 67-66 Thursday night before a crowd of 5,677 in Moody Coliseum.  The Bulls’ David Collins sank a three point shot with six seconds left for the game winner.  South Florida stays in the hunt for the regular season American Athletic Conference championship by improving their record to 6-4 in conference and 16-6 for the season.  SMU drops to 12-10 and 4-6.

All three of the games in SMU’s current losing streak have been close.  The margin of defeat totals just eight points.  SMU Head Coach Tim Jankovich commented after the game, “I’ve coached for thirty some years now, and I cannot remember three more heart breaking games back-to-back-to-back, three in a row in a week’s time.  And especially with two of them on the road.  It’s very hard to believe.  It’s very painful.  I really hurt for our guys.  We’re one possession away from having one of the greatest stretches in a long, long time.  But if you lose a close one or lose a non-close one, it’s exactly the same.”

Both teams came out with a hot shooting hand to start the game.  Both teams shot 52% in the first half.  SMU led most of the way, but South Florida closed with a 9-0 run to take a four point lead to the halftime locker room.

In the second half, the Mustangs led for just 24 seconds until the final three minutes as the Bulls maintained control of the game.  They stretched their lead to as many as eight points, but never could put the Mustangs away.  SMU put together an 11-0 run after USF went up by eight to take a three point lead with 1:27 left.  Collins hit a three point shot to tie the game at 64.  Ethan Chargois then reclaimed the lead for SMU with two free throws at the 45 second mark.  

That gave the Mustangs a 66-64 lead and set the stage for Collins’ game winner.  

Four Mustangs’ scored in double digits led by Isiaha Mike with 18.  Mike hit four of the Mustangs’ six three point shots in the game.  Jahmal McMurray was next with 15 points.  Freshman Feron Hunt made his second consecutive start and scored in double digits for the second consecutive game with 13 points, his new career high.  Chargois with 11 points was the other Mustang scoring in double digits.  Hunt and Jimmy Whitt, Jr. led the Ponies with eight rebounds each.  Whitt was also the assist leader with eight.

Collins was the Bulls’ leading scorer with 23 points.  Point guard Laquincy Rideau was the only other USF player in double digits with 14 points.  Rideau had nine assists to just miss recording a double-double, and he also led the Bulls with six rebounds.  

A significant difference in the game was the three point shooting.  USF made 11 to the Mustangs’ six to largely offset SMU’s plus eight at the free throw line. 

The win was the fourth in a row for USF, and they accomplished it without Alexis Yetna, the conference’s leading rebounder.  He missed after getting injured in the Bulls’ last game against Memphis.  South Florida stays on the fringe of the conference race in fifth place.  The two one-loss teams both won Thursday night.  Houston beat Central Florida, and Cincinnati came back to beat Memphis.  They’re both 9-1 and play each other this Sunday.  Temple beat UCONN Wednesday night to stay in third place.  They’re 7-3.  Central Florida is next at 6-3 after losing to Houston.  

SMU is tied with Connecticut and Wichita State for seventh place in the conference race.

Jankovich admitted that his team is not as good defensively as he desires.  “By this time of year, you hope to be just so solid, and such great habits so that when you do play hard, you’re instinctively in the right spots most of the time, and you make very few mistakes.  You look at our numbers and we’re not near the defensive team we usually are.  When you can’t practice five on five on a daily basis, you can’t build defensive habits.  I don’t say that as an excuse.  It’s just damn frustrating.  Our last week, we never practiced five-on-five for the four days.  Our defense has been the reason that we’ve not been able to win these three games.” 

The home stand continues for the Mustangs when they host Central Florida this Sunday at 1:00 PM (Central) in Moody Coliseum.  The Knights arrive with a 16-5 record for the season.  The game will be televised on ESPN News.

NOTABLE:

  • SMU football received a shot in the arm Thursday afternoon when Texas quarterback Shane Buechele tweeted that he would be transferring to SMU.  Buechele is the son of former Texas Rangers third baseman and coach under manager Jeff Banister, Steve Buechele.  As a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play this year, and he has two years of eligibility remaining. 
  • SMU still leads the all-time series with South Florida, 9-5.
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