No. 15 SMU Rallies to Stay Undefeated, 59-57 Over Cincinnati

No. 15 SMU is short-handed and still undefeated after a gutsy comeback.

"After that game, I just couldn't believe what I just witnessed," Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown said. "Still don't know what I just saw."

Jordan Tolbert tipped in Nic Moore's missed shot for the go-ahead score with 28 seconds left and then had a big block for the Mustangs, who had only six players most of the game and rallied from a seven-point deficit in the final 3 1/2 minutes to beat Cincinnati 59-57 on Thursday night.

"It just shows the character and fight of everybody have," said Moore, the senior point guard.

SMU (14-0, 3-0 American Athletic Conference) is off to the best start in school history, but banned from postseason play because of NCAA sanctions. The Mustangs and No. 22 South Carolina (14-0) are the only undefeated teams remaining in Division I basketball.

The Mustangs trailed 55-48 at the final media timeout with 3:40 remaining, but Moody Coliseum was raucously loud when the players went back on the court -- standing near the free-throw circle not far from where Cincinnati's team was still gathered around coach Mick Cronin.

Cincinnati (11-5, 1-2) missed its last five shots after that.

Moore finished with 14 points. He had two 3-pointers in the game-ending 11-2 run, and when he missed Tolbert followed up to put the Mustangs ahead. Tolbert then blocked Troy Caupain's shot at the other end.

"We had a defensive breakdown ... when Nic More hit his 3. It was ridiculous," Cronin said. "He's the best player in our league, the reigning player of the year in our league. We let him circle around, get a handoff and shoot a 3."

Ben Moore made a free throw with 8 seconds left before Farad Cobb, the AAC's top 3-point shooter, missed a 3 on the last shot when he said he was supposed to be a decoy for Caupain to drive the lane.

"But he passed it. I knew how much time was left, so I just took a shot," Cobb said.

Cobb, who entered with 2.7 3s per game and shooting 47 percent from long range, had 18 points on his six 3-pointers. Gary Clark had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Bearcats.

Ben Moore had 15 points to lead SMU, while Tolbert and freshman Shake Milton each had 11. Milton played all 40 minutes, and Nic Moore played 39.

The Mustangs had only seven scholarship players with junior guard Keith Frazier away from the team for a second consecutive game because of personal reasons.

They were down to six when Sterling Brown, sporting a Mohawk haircut for the first time, was ejected from the game with 7:11 left in the first half after coming on the floor during a scrum that led technical fouls against both teams.

Brown was at the scoring table waiting to come into the game when Nic Moore was scrambling on the floor for a rebound. Tolbert dived and landed on top of Cincinnati center Coreontae DeBerry, and the big men were shoving each other with one official in the fray with them. Other players came together, with some more shoving as other officials got between them.

Officials took an extended look at replays, including overhead views, before assessing technical fouls against Tolbert and DeBerry and ejecting Brown.


Frazier's future with the team is still uncertain. Coach Larry Brown has said he is in constant contact with Frazier, and that the player has the full support of the program. Online course work for Frazier prior to his enrollment at SMU was part of the NCAA investigation that last fall led to the postseason ban for the defending AAC champions and Brown being suspended the first nine games this season. Frazier averaged 11.9 points and 4.4 rebounds a game in 10 games this season.


Cincinnati: The Bearcats haven't been outrebounded this season. They had a 33-32 edge against SMU. ... Cincinnati won both games against the Mustangs last season.

SMU: The Mustangs played only seven players, four of them going at least 31 minutes. ... SMU had 11 blocked shots, five by Ben Moore, and only nine total fouls.


Cincinnati is at USF on Sunday.

SMU hosts UCF on Sunday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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