SMU humbles Demons, 81-35
DALLAS – The first half quickly became a mismatch Wednesday night as young Northwestern State visited veteran SMU. Then the Mustangs got hot.
The result was an 81-35 pasting of the Demons, whose point total was their lowest since joining NCAA Division I 40 years ago.
NSU (0-3), the nation’s fifth-youngest college basketball team with six freshman playing, could not get untracked against the reigning American Athletic Conference champs (3-0), who won 30 games last season.
The Mustangs drained their first six 3-pointers, quickly expanding a 36-8 halftime lead. After a 4-4 tie, the Demons didn’t score a basket for the next 17 minutes. SMU shot poorly most of the half and led only 21-6 with five minutes left before beginning to find its groove, scoring 15 more before intermission.
“You go in and it’s been brutally ugly, you just try to take deep breaths and rally the troops,” said 19th-year NSU coach Mike McConathy. “We turn the ball over 15 times (by halftime) and they score 17 easy points. You can control that. We haven’t so far in three games, but we will. And we did much better (only six) in the second half.”
NSU shot just 3 of 22 in the first half and finished at 25 percent, including 3 of 20 aim behind the 3-point arc. Iziahiah Sweeney’s nine points topped the Demons, who used all 12 players in the first half.
The previous scoring low this century for McConathy’s Demons was 36 in a 2007 visit to Oklahoma State. The final was the lowest total for NSU since 1972 in a 45-29 loss to coach Don Hawkins’ UTEP
SMU shot 43 percent overall and outscored NSU 31-5 in points off turnovers. The Mustangs had four double-digit scorers, led by 19 from Jarrey Foster and 17 by Ben Emelogu.
“I know what’s on the other side. I’ve seen how good they are,” said McConathy. “That is a throwback team. They do what they’re coached to do, very efficiently, and they do it with some outstanding players.”
Former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura attended the game, sitting in their courtside seats opposite the benches. It was the first time an NSU athletic team played in front of a former U.S. leader, and McConathy took note.
“The former President and Mrs. Bush stayed until the end. It was really an honor to see them,” he said, “but as I sat over across from them, I felt like Saddam Hussien with those Patriot missiles coming our way all night.”
As for his team, McConathy said he was being patient. The Demons will get back senior point guard Jalan West Friday night in a 6:30 home game against Rice. With West in action, NSU beat Grambling 92-85 in an exhibition game Nov. 6 and battled on even terms in a preseason scrimmage Oct. 28 against UTA, which returns much of an NIT quarterfinalist team last year.
“You look in their faces, and you see the frustration they have. You’ve got to work through that,” he said. “It starts with playing halfcourt defense.
“You be positive and look for ways to motivate them. You’ve got to help them realize they’ve played well in preseason against other teams, other good teams,” he said. “We’ve been overmatched tonight and at Texas, and we just were completely out of synch in our home game and had no success. They’re trying, playing hard, and we just have to keep the faith. These are not bad players, we’re just not playing effectively yet. We will.”
After Friday’s home game at Prather Coliseum, NSU goes to ULM the following Tuesday night and plays at Colorado State on the night after Thanksgiving.
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