SMU men's basketball records second-best field goal percentage in SMU history, win 79-65
Published: Sunday, January 23, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
Head coach Matt Doherty said Saturday's 79-65 win over Southern Miss was " the best I've seen our team play against a quality opponent."
Not only did SMU (11-8, 2-3 Conference USA) upset the leading scoring team in league play, but the Mustangs also posted the second-best field goal percentage in school history.
"Our offense is not a simple offense so it's going to get better," Doherty said. "Our defense requires a lot of communication and it's getting better. Hopefully we're just starting to scratch the surface."
Led by Papa Dia with 23 points, the 6-foot-9-inch forward shot 10-for-10 from the field, adding nine rebounds and four blocks.
As a team, SMU shot 69.8 percent from the field in what became the second best field goal percentage scored in a C-USA game.
"I think [Dia's] focus was tremendous the last two days of practice and as [he] goes in terms of his emotional leadership, our team goes," Doherty said.
Robert Nyakundi added 16 points, Collin Mangrum scored 15 and Rodney Clinkscales added 12 in the Mustang's ninth win in 11 home games. Freshman point guard Jeremiah Samarrippas weighed in with a career-high nine assists.
After taking the lead early in the first half, SMU was able to pull ahead by 10 points before the Golden Eagles (14-5, 3-3 C-USA) started closing the gap. With just over one minutes left, Southern Miss came within three points of SMU before Angelo Johnson nailed a three-pointer to tie the game at 31 a piece.
A three-pointer from SMU's Mike Walker with four seconds left put the Mustangs up 34-31 to end the first half and lead to the home team's second conference win.
"When we get good shots and we just hit a couple it could be automatic from there," Clinkscales said. "Once we free up and get into a rhythm the other team is going to be in trouble."
Southern Miss, who fell from the polls after a 76-75 loss to Memphis last weekend, was handed their second consecutive conference loss of the season, despite gaining the lead early in the second half.
SMU never trailed by more than three points in the final 20 minutes and led by a 18 points with 32 seconds left, as Southern Miss was held to only 42.9 percent from the field and 7-of-20 from the long range.
Gary Flowers, the third-best scorer in Conference USA was held to just 12 points by the SMU defense.
"Just pressure," Dia said about the team did defending Flowers. "Every time he gets the ball [we tried to] get it out of his hands and make him dribble. We played good defense so I wasn't surprised the guys went in and took him out of his game."
SMU will be on the road against the University of Tulsa on Wednesday before heading to Rice on Saturday.