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Season hasn't been pretty but SMU is still in the bubble...

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Season hasn't been pretty but SMU is still in the bubble...

Postby AfricanMustang » Wed Feb 10, 2021 5:49 pm

Five turnovers, and nine missed shots. The media timeout came mercifully as the Mustangs looked like a team still sleepwalking after the inconvenient trip to Greenville, N.C.

That, combined with the final six minutes of SMU’s game against Tulsa five days prior, were overt displays of futility. In that game, SMU made just two field goals down the stretch and almost completely blew a 17-point lead.

But when it comes to making the NCAA Tournament it isn’t about how you start, or how you finish, it’s about if you won. And SMU won both of those tough road games — on Monday it was a 71-56 final over the Pirates. The Mustangs are 11-4, 7-4 in the American Athletic Conference, and right on the doorstep of national relevance.

“You have to fight through adversity. So it was a great win to get today,” said center Isiah Jasey.

Kendric Davis has willed SMU to these two consecutive wins. He scored 25 points and dished eight assists. He said on Wednesday that both Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway and Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson told him he was the best player in the conference.

SMU’s best wins this season have been escape acts. From nearly losing huge leads to Memphis and Tulsa to Emmanuel Bandoumel floating in a buzzer-beater after Dayton tied the game with a 3-pointer seconds before.

Since then, the SMU coaching staff has been decimated by COVID-19 and contact tracing. For eight days, there were no on-court coaches at practice. Now head coach Tim Jankovich has been out for six consecutive games with COVID-19, and it’s unclear when he’ll return.

Personnel has been up in the air at times, too. The Mustangs announced four minutes before tipoff that two centers, Yor Anei and Jahmar Young Jr. are now not with the team due to personal reasons. It’s unclear when or if they’ll return. This is after Tyson Jolly missed the first nine games due to personal reasons.

For SMU, it always feels like something will get in the way of a really deep, talented team that is capable of winning against anyone in the conference. The last week, SMU has found a way despite those hindrances.

The program currently sits at No. 53 in Kenpom, and will likely move up from its No. 59 spot in the NET ranking on Tuesday. On the ESPN2 broadcast, bracketologist Joe Lunardi said he thinks the Mustangs are now among the first eight teams out of the NCAA Tournament.

They’re 0-3 in games against Quadrant I opponents but are now 5-0 against Quadrant II, 3-1 against Quadrant III and 3-0 against Quadrant IIII.

That’s firmly on the bubble.

Read more...https://www.dallasnews.com/sports/smu-m ... versation/
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