Two weeks ago, it seemed like SMU would cruise to the American Athletic Conference regular-season title as long as it didn’t see a letup in its level of early-season play.
Now though, the league is totally up in the air.
The Mustangs fell at home to Tulsa on Wednesday 82-77. The backcourt tandem of James Woodard and Shaquille Harrison was tremendous yet again for the Hurricane, combining for 41 points and 11 assists while only turning it over three times. They controlled the late portion of the game, especially in the final eight minutes. SMU made a run in the middle of the second half to push its lead out to eight, but Woodard and Harrison scored 17 points in those last eight minutes to close the game out.
Nic Moore scored 27 points of his own, including a massive 3-pointer late to bring the Mustangs within one point. But it just ended up not being enough as SMU’s defense just couldn’t quite string together enough stops.
Tulsa is sitting now at 16-8 with an 8-4 mark in the AAC, putting it firmly in the mix for the league crown. They also have three top-20 KenPom wins, which will be a nice feather in their cap if they can avoid bad losses the rest of the way.
For SMU, the Mustangs are in a dogfight for their stated goal of winning the regular-season crown. It seems like their lack of depth is finally catching up with them. Temple and Connecticut are currently tied in the loss column with Larry Brown’s group, with Cincinnati and Tulsa just sitting a game back. This race is going to be great to watch coming down the stretch, and the conference tournament has potential to be just as great when everyone travels to Orlando.