And then there were none.
SMU’s pursuit of an unbeaten season came to an end on Sunday, as it ran into a scorching hot Temple team that defeated the Mustangs 89-80. Devin Coleman led the way for Temple, making all seven of his 3-point attempts on his way to 23 points. As a team, the Owls (11-7, 5-2 AAC) made 14 3s and used those shots from deep to keep SMU (18-1, 7-1) at arm’s length throughout the entire second half.
The Mustangs first loss came after starting the season 18-0. This is earlier than we’ve seen the last undefeated team fall than in each of the last two seasons, as both Kentucky in 2015 and Wichita State in 2014 went through the entire regular season without a blemish before falling in the NCAA Tournament.
Even if SMU had been able to get through the regular season unbeaten, it would not have had a chance to compete in the NCAA Tournament. The Mustangs are banned from postseason play this season in connection with an academic fraud scandal that also saw coach Larry Brown suspended for 30 percent of their season.
That’s what made this such a fun story to track in college hoops. It says a lot about SMU that it was able to get up for every contest in its 18-game run and really compete despite being unable to play beyond its regular season schedule. Add to the fact that the Mustangs are currently only playing with seven scholarship players following the transfer of Keith Frazier? It’s absolutely remarkable that they were able to get this far, and it’s a testament to seniors Nic Moore, Jordan Tolbert and Markus Kennedy that they were able to lead SMU to an unblemished mark this far into the season.
The Mustangs have been getting by this season due to an elite offense, which made their defensive deficiencies a bit less pronounced. SMU came into this one 75th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency according to KenPom, and they had been susceptible to big shooting nights from opponents throughout the year. They haven’t been particularly strong at running opposing teams off the 3-point line, allowing their opponents to take over 40 percent of their attempts from 3. That’s why SMU has now allowed five teams to make at least 10 3s in a game this season, and ultimately it was their downfall today.
The Mustangs should hold their heads high at this point, and continue toward another one of their goals that is ultimately still attainable: winning the AAC championship.