After losing three out of its last four, and barely clinging to hopes of a berth in the NCAA Tournament, SMU needed a win Sunday afternoon against the No. 6 Cincinnati Bearcats. But the Mustangs were blown out on their home court, losing 76-51 to drop to 15-10 (5-7)
Before the game started, the Mustangs received some bad news. Freshman forward Ethan Chargois, one of just two healthy big men for SMU, rolled his ankle during shoot round. He was unable to play.
Shake Milton, still struggling with a hand injury, was also ruled out prior to the game, leaving SMU with just six scholarship players and a three-man bench.
“It’s honestly the most surreal situation I have ever been in in my life,” SMU head coach Tim Jankovich said about his team’s struggles staying healthy.
Jankovich said he had about an hour to adjust the game plan following Chargois’ injury.
“What are you going to do,” Jankovich said. “There’s just not a lot that you can do.”
SMU fought hard early against the Bearcats, trailing by just six points midway through the first half. But the wheels started to come off. SMU couldn’t get an anything going offensively. They could not create shots, and could not move the basketball against Cincinnati’s stifling defense. The Mustangs shot just 9-35 from the floor in the first half, and 1-13 from deep. They mounted a small run toward the end of the half, cutting the Bearcat’s lead to 32-21 at the half.
But the game wouldn’t stay close for long, as Cincinnati embarked on a 17-0 run coming out of the locker room to essentially put the game away. Eventually, SMU found itself down 60-25.
“We just missed every shot,” Jankovich said.
SMU finished the day shooting just 32 percent from the floor, and 16.7 percent from behind the arc.
Jahmal McMurray finished with 19 points in 38 minutes. Jimmy Whitt had 19 points as well, and played all 40 minutes. Akoy Agau played a season-high 30 minutes, recording 13 rebounds.
The Mustangs have lost four of their last five. They will face Memphis on Wednesday. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.